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For Release: March 24, 2009
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 2007 in Oklahoma, there were more than 13,100 confirmations of child abuse and/or neglect. In 2006, the latest data available indicates 32 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 Interim Commissioner of Health Rocky McElvany. “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 as well as caregivers 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 or the caregiver, 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 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, talents, and efforts. Recognize 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” appropriately 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:

Buy a “Child Abuse Prevention” specialty license plate. Applications for the specialty license tag called “Start Right” are available at your local tag agency. The tag costs $35.00 and if by mail a $2.00 shipping charged is added for a total cost of $37.00, which will take a couple of weeks to ship. Money will go into the child abuse prevention fund to support prevention programs across the state.

Participate in “Build a Blue Ribbon Tree for Kids” in your neighborhood. Find a highly visible spot to place your blue ribbon tree and add a blue ribbon for the number of children abused and neglected in your county; or the number of new babies born in your community; or to represent something important in your community to show your support for children.

The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) college students in Edmond are “ribboning” the trees around the lake for April while the UCO Child Study Center class of 3-year-olds will host a very special “Blue Ribbon Tree Parade” with instruments and decorated vehicles on Wednesday, April 8, at 11 a.m. For information about the tree decorating and parade, contact Dr. Kaye Sears at (405) 974-5786.

Participate in “Child Abuse Prevention Day” at the State Capitol on Tuesday, April 14. There will be speakers, display and information booths, and the winners of the statewide poster contest will be recognized. For information about the poster contest or the “Child Abuse Prevention Day”, call the Child Abuse Prevention Service at (405) 271-7611.

Visit the art poster contest display at the State Capitol on Tuesday, April 14, to see the winners from posters from all across the state. The Arts Council of Oklahoma City will select an impartial panel of judges to select the winners, and award the certificates and prizes to 13 talented children.

Call your local library to see what types of materials and videos are available for parents and childcare professionals on ways to prevent child abuse and neglect and on learning good parenting skills.

Volunteer to serve on the statewide Child Abuse Prevention Month Action Committee during this year for next year and plan to help with future activities.

To get involved in Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer efforts to assist children through the legal system, contact Jennifer Hunter at 1-800-742-2272.

To get involved with Prevent Child Abuse Oklahoma, call Micah Stirling at (800) CHILDREN.

For general information about child abuse prevention month activities, to request materials for your community, and to discover ways to get involved, call the county health department in your area or contact Sherie Trice, OSDH Family Support and Prevention Service at (405) 271-7611.

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