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FOR RELEASE: April 12, 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Develop a Child-Friendly Environment, Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

In 2003, 36,967 investigations or assessments for child abuse or neglect regarding children of all races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds were made in Oklahoma. During that same year, 27 children died in our state as a result of that abuse and neglect. Many of the survivors will need counseling, social, and health services for the rest of their lives, in order to recover and to try to break a cycle of abuse and neglect, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), Family Support and Prevention Service.

Nationally, an average of more than 2,450 children are abused or neglected every day, with an average of four child deaths occurring daily as a result of child abuse or neglect.

“The tragedy of child abuse and neglect is far greater than its immediate visible effects, leaving scars on children for a lifetime. Often 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. The results of abuse and neglect can affect entire families and communities, and is a serious public health threat to all of us,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

“We need to raise the public’s awareness about positive ways to surround a child with secure relationships and experiences that the child can incorporate into becoming a confident, caring adult willing to contribute to society. Unfortunately, if a child is surrounded by violence or given little positive intellectual or emotional feedback, it will be extremely difficult for him or her to grow up successfully,” Crutcher added.

The following protective factors have been identified through research as ways to help reduce and prevent child abuse and neglect:

  • Parental resilience
  • Nurturing and attachment
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Effective problem solving and communication skills
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Social and emotional competence of children
  • Healthy marriages

Oklahoma’s public health system offers programs and resources to help strengthen children and families. Local county health departments and their community partners provide parents services through home visitation services or services offered at their facilities. Professionals can assist parents in improving their knowledge of child health and development, nutrition and safety. In addition these services can assist the parents with their own personal development issues such as job training, furthering education and housing.

“We know that parenting is a very difficult job. All parents need support and education. When parents receive such supports, child maltreatment is reduced. Such prevention activities save the family and society from economic expense, and more importantly, emotional toll,” said OSDH Deputy Commissioner for Family Health Services, Dr. Edd Rhoades.

For more information about preventing child abuse and neglect or to find out about programs near you that offer positive parenting information, contact the county health department in your area.

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