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Olympia – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), the Prevent Child Abuse Washington State chapter, reinforces the role that each person plays in ensuring that children, families and entire communities thrive by participating in the month-long nationwide awareness and impact campaign: “Everyone Can Make Great Childhoods Happen — Especially You, Especially Now!”

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed April to be the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month (CAP Month), a tradition that continues to this day.

“April is a time to help people across the country understand that safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments are necessary to ensure that children grow up happy and healthy,” said DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter. “Families face a lot of uncertainty in the face of the state’s response to the coronavirus. We know that in the face of crisis, stress adds more pressures to families.”

Equally important is recognizing that the time to act is now. COVID-19 has made life difficult for everyone — especially children and families. Although the risk to our children’s physical health from the outbreak itself appears to be low, the risk to our nation’s children for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty is quite high.

School and workplace closings can increase stress in parents’ lives, resulting from loss of income due to lack of paid leave; an unexpected or irregular need for child care and even food insecurity, when school meal programs and other valuable resources become unavailable. Additionally, an unintended consequence of social distancing is isolation, which contradicts science proving that social and emotional connectedness and support are protective of mental health and positive discipline strategies.

Social distancing, closures of schools and cancelation of routine medical appointments also mean mandated reporters like teachers, counselors, child care providers and doctors are unable to report suspected child abuse or neglect they observe. This is why this year’s CAP month is significantly more critical.

DCYF recommends the following ways to help raise awareness and impact positive change virtually during this year’s CAP Month:

  • Show support for children and families by wearing blue on April 3, Wear Blue Day, posting a picture or video of yourself on your favorite social media channel(s) and including the #WearBlueDay2020 hashtag.
  • Follow DCYF on Facebook and share our posts widely — and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Use the hashtags #GreatChildhoods and #CAPMonth to let us know you're committed to helping children, families and entire communities to thrive.
  • Review ways you can prevent child abuse.
  • Be vigilant of safety threats and other signs of child abuse and neglect.
  • Keep your local intake number on hand to report abuse or neglect.

For more ways to get involved in CAP Month, please visit www.preventchildabuse.org/yesyou.

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