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FOR RELEASE: April 1, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Everyone Can Help Prevent Child Abuse
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

In 2001, almost 13,400 of Oklahoma’s children did not know what it was like to be “safe and sound” in their homes. Tragically, 38 children - of all races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds - died as a result of abuse and neglect, according to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

The impact of abuse and neglect is far greater that its immediate visible effects. Survivors of child abuse and neglect may be at greater risk for problems later in life such as poor school performance, drug and alcohol use, teen pregnancy, and criminal behavior that affect not just the child and family, but society as a whole.

“We need to raise the public’s awareness of the devastating effects of child abuse,” said Dr. Leslie Beitsch, Commissioner of Health, “and empower and encourage people to become involved and support families and parents so that we can prevent all forms of child abuse and neglect.”

The goal of child abuse prevention is to stop the child abuse and neglect from happening in the first place, sparing the children and families emotional and physical trauma and decreasing the need for costly intervention and treatment services. The best way to prevent child abuse and neglect is to support families and provide parents with the skills and resource they need. Prevention efforts create healthier environments for children and nurture confident, positive parenting.

“Just as immunizations are given to our children during their first few years of their lives to protect them from deadly diseases, child abuse prevention programs focus on building good parenting, nurturing, health and safety skills that can protect against child abuse and neglect,” Beitsch said.

There are many things that individuals can do to keep the children in their lives and communities from becoming statistics. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Prevent Child Abuse America organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have created a packet of information and resources about child abuse and neglect prevention with the theme of “Gateways to Prevention.” It contains strategies for how each one of us can get involved in preventing child abuse. The packet is available from www.preventchildabuse.org .

Everyone can provide a Gateway to Prevention, and everyone can play a role in the prevention of child abuse. Raise the issue. Reach out to kids and families in your community. Join community prevention efforts. Take action to help ensure that the children in your community are safe and sound. For more information about ways to help prevent child abuse, contact the county health department in your area.

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