April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and a time when we are helping people understand how they can prevent child abuse from occurring in the first place. But we know well that child abuse can happen at any time, to any child.
The problem of child abuse in Wisconsin is staggering. In any given year, more than 40,000 children are reported to authorities as being abused or neglected. And nearly 20 percent of those reports actually are proven. These children could fill every seat at Miller Park or populate a city the size of New Berlin or Brookfield. Most often, the abusers are people the children know, love and trust – family members, siblings, unrelated people living in the home, neighbors. And the list goes on.
But there is hope. The Child Abuse Prevention Fund supports programs that work directly with families who are at risk for abusing their children. Being at risk means there are family circumstances that may contribute to a child being unsafe in the home. Trained professionals are paired with families who are expecting a baby or have just delivered a baby. The professionals spend time weekly or twice monthly in the family’s home, helping new parents learn about child development, new baby care, nutrition, setting up a safe home environment and parenting their children using strategies that are not abusive. Children served by programs supported by the Child Abuse Prevention Fund are more likely to be immunized, live in safe environments and have parents that understand their developmental needs.
Healthy Families is one program supported by the Child Abuse Prevention Fund. One mother who was enrolled in this program had this to say: “I know more about how to be a good parent and that there are different ways to raise children and I’ve learned how to be patient and learned how to step away when I’m overly stressed and angry – and that it’s OK to do so. I’ve learned more about the development of my child than I did in any of the books I’ve read.”
You can help more parents learn these skills and prevent child abuse from happening in the first place. Visit safe-at-home.org to support our work.
Want to help? Join the End Child Abuse Cause on Facebook and you can donate online and recruit friends and family to learn more about child abuse prevention.
The Child Abuse Prevention Fund is a fundraising initiative of Children’s Hospital and Health System. Since 1988, the organization has distributed more than $9.2 million to support community-based child abuse prevention initiatives throughout Wisconsin.
Read more blog posts by Jennifer Hammel.