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For Release: March 25, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Child Abuse Prevention Month Seeks Community Involvement
It Only Takes a Minute to Make a Difference in the Life of a Child

Small, positive actions can make a difference in the life of a child. The focus this year for April, Child Abuse Prevention Month, is to highlight those actions that each of us can take to help raise safe, healthy, resilient children. The theme “It Only Takes a Minute to Make a Difference in the Life of a Child,” brings hope that all children can get a good start in life if the adults around them take small actions that add up to a pattern of supportive community and family environments in which children can grow and develop into productive citizens.

According to statistics from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, in 2006 in Oklahoma, there were more than 13,800 confirmations of child abuse and/or neglect. In 2005, the latest data available indicates 40 Oklahoma children died as a result of child abuse and neglect.

“Even one victim of child abuse and neglect is still one victim too many,” said Secretary for Health and State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher. “Survivors need counseling, social and health services for the rest of their lives in order to recover and to try to break the vicious cycle of abuse and neglect. This affects the health of families and entire communities for generations.”

“There are lots of small, positive things we can all do to help protect and nurture our children that only take a minute,” said Sherie Trice, community-based child abuse prevention grant coordinator with the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). “A few words of praise and encouragement to a child, listening carefully to what a child has to say, showing a child you care, saying ‘I love you’ – all are simple actions that added together have been shown to have a profound impact on a child’s life. In these very real ways, we can all support children and strengthen families,” Trice said.

The OSDH Family Support and Prevention (FSP) Service offers the following parenting tips to help build healthy families:
·Help your children feel loved and secure. Make sure your children know you love them, even when they do something wrong
·Encourage your children by praising their achievements and talents and recognizing the skills they are developing.
·Spend time with your children doing things that you both enjoy. Listen to them.
·Learn how to use nonphysical options for discipline that are appropriate for your child’s age and development or redirect your child’s attention by offering choices, and/or use “time out” as a way to discipline.
·Seek help if you need it. Sometimes special circumstances like unemployment, or a child with special needs, can add stress to the family. If you need additional support, try to talk to a friend, health care provider, faith leader or counselor or join a support group for parents.
Finally, the FSP Service encourages you to get involved with some of the local activities being planned in your area related to Child Abuse Prevention Month, including the following:
·Participate in “Child Abuse Prevention Day” at the State Capitol on Tuesday, April 8. There will be speakers, displays, booths and the winners of a statewide poster contest will be recognized. For more information about the poster contest, call the CAP Service at (405) 271-7611.
·Call your local library to see what types of materials and videos are available for parents and child care professionals.
·Volunteer to serve on your local Child Abuse Prevention Month Action Committee for this year and next year.
·To get involved in Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer efforts, contact Jennifer Hunter at 1-800-742-2272.
·To get involved with the Exchange Club Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse of Oklahoma, call Micah Sterling at (405) 232-2500.

For general information about child abuse prevention activities, materials and ways to get involved, call the county health department in your area or contact Sheri Trice, OSDH FSP Service at (405) 271-7611.

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