National Child Abuse Prevention Month was first observed in 1983 by proclamation by President Ronald Reagan. Since then, the office on Child Abuse and Neglect has continued to annually coordinate activities, host multidisciplinary forums focused on prevention, awareness, and education.
Following in Regan’s footsteps, and several other presidents before him, President Donald Trump also proclaimed April National Child Abuse Prevention Month on March 31, 2017.
“Abuse or neglect can rob children of their sense of dignity and worth, which are indispensable to the pursuit of happiness and success in the classroom, in the workplace, and in relationships. Children rightfully impose a moral obligation on adults, who must protect them from harm and preserve their opportunity to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams,” the proclamation read.
“As we observe National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we renew our commitment to stop child abuse before it begins. That means preventing destructive conduct from shattering the secure and protective environments in which our children deserve to live, learn, and thrive. We must all be aware of the signs of child maltreatment and take appropriate steps to safeguard children by reporting concerns and connecting families with the help they may need.”
Significant Moments in Child Abuse Prevention in the United States, According to ChildWelfare.gov
1974: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was originally signed into law in on January 31, 1974, by President Richard Nixon.
1978: The first report of the Federal Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, “Federal Standards For Child Abuse And Neglect Prevention And Treatment Programs And Projects” was published in March 1978. The report was 327 pages long, consisting of 11 sections.
1982: The U.S. has its first “National Child Abuse Prevention Week” (June 6 – 12).
1983: President Ronald Regan proclaimed April to be the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
1984: The Children’s Bureau was an early supporter of State Children’s Trust Funds. In 1980, Kansas was the first state to pass a legislation requiring revenues from surcharges placed on marriage licenses to be used to support child abuse prevention.
1989: The Blue Ribbon Society was established in 1989 by the Child Abuse Prevention Center.
1991: In the summer of 1990, Louis W. Sullivan, MD (the Secretary of Health and Human Services) created a national initiative to raise awareness about child neglect and abuse. In December 1991, a meeting entitled, “We Can Make a Difference: Strategies for combating Child Maltreatment,” encouraged participants to act on a local level.
1996: The Children’s Bureau named the lead agency for the community-based child abuse prevention (CBCAP) grants.
2001: In 2001, the 13th National Conference, “Faces of Change: Embracing Diverse Cultures and Alternative Approaches,” shed light on the diversity of the U.S., allowing us to bring a multitude of approaches to tackle issues in the field of child abuse and neglect.
2005: In 2005, the U.S. renewed its commitment to make child abuse prevention a national priority.
2008: The Children’s Bureau launched 17 cooperative agreements to increase knowledge about evidence-based home visiting programs.
2009: In 2009, the 17th National Conference, “Focusing on the Future: Strengthening Families and Communities,” addressed the root causes of child maltreatment.
2010: On March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted. The ACA included a provision to create the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.
2011: Network for Action holds first meeting in Alexandria, VA, in June 2011. A second national meeting was held in April 2012.
2013: The third Network for Action Meeting was held in April 2013 and included a focus on connections across the continuum of services from prevention, intervention, and treatment.
2014: The 19th National Conference, “Making Meaningful Connections,” marked the 40th anniversary of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
Please note that this is not a complete list.
[Feature Image by Pexels]