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child abuse prevention month 2020

Since 1983, April has been designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, and in 2020 we once again take this month to discuss how we each have a role in preventing child abuse and neglect. However, this year our efforts take on a different feel. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are physically distancing ourselves from one another. While this type of isolation is helping to keep us all safe, for some families the isolation, stress, and economic uncertainty can create a higher risk of violence. In 2019 in Michigan, 33,060 children were abused or neglected – roughly 91 each day. Due to the research around the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), we know that this early trauma has detrimental health impacts throughout a person’s life.

In April, we look to the solution. Prevention of child abuse and neglect is necessary to change these difficult outcomes and create bright futures for our children. Since 2009, the blue pinwheel and the Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign has been the focus of April’s child abuse prevention awareness efforts. The pinwheel stands for the strong childhoods each child deserves and reminds us that we each play an important role in Standing UP for children. Together we can create change in our communities.

The Ottawa County Stop Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Council, coordinated and facilitated by Arbor Circle, is taking the lead in Ottawa County to remind us all of our power to prevent child abuse and neglect. Our goal as the SCAN Council is to be a catalyst for action in our community. As a council we look at the needs we have in our community, work to find solutions for those needs, and launch those solutions. One of our primary goals is to build connection and partnership to address gaps in community services. This is essential, and now more than ever.

Typically on April 1 we gather, learn about what our community is doing to build strong families, and plant pinwheel gardens. This year, we are unable to gather in person, but are kicking off our April campaign with a virtual event on Facebook. While there will not be physical pinwheel gardens, we encourage you to visit our website and participate with a virtual garden and other tools, including:
• virtual pinwheel garden
• free coloring page to download
• facebook profile frame from Michigan’s Children Trust Fund
• calendar of activities you can do to build strength in your family

In addition to participating in this campaign, here are ways you can support strong families in your community during our current crisis and beyond:
• In Ottawa County, find ways to support basic needs and volunteer through careottawacounty.com.
• Call, video chat, and talk with your friends and family. Ask them how they are doing and what you can do to help.
• Write letters, notes, and emails. Send cards to families who may need to be cheered up.
• Call new parents and help them with soothing techniques. Remind them that it’s okay to leave the baby in a crib or safe place and walk away for a moment if the infant’s crying becomes too much.
• Advocate for families by calling your elected officials.
• Donate to local nonprofits that serve children.
• Support the SCAN Council.

We all have the power to stand up for children, and April is our time to use it.