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For Release: March 25, 2013 - Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – (405) 271-5601

Communities Urged to Help Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month: “
It’s Your Turn – Make a Difference for Children”

Can you spare a couple of hours a week or month to help make a difference in the life of a child? Child advocates and the general public will be encouraged to do just that during Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Day at the State Capitol on Tuesday, April 9. From 8 a.m. till noon that day, booth displays and special activities will focus on building supportive community and family environments that help children grow and develop into productive citizens. Latest statistics from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services indicate child abuse confirmations have risen the last three years in Oklahoma, with more than 9,800 confirmations in state fiscal year 2012. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Among the activities offered during CAP Day at the State Capitol will be a children’s book drive, “Connect the Dots for Oklahoma’s Children.” Children’s books may be dropped off from 8 a.m. till noon at the fourth floor rotunda. “This book drive is just one small way to encourage positive interactions with children and improve literacy skills that can last a lifetime,” said Annette Jacobi, chief of the Family Support and Prevention Service at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). “We encourage everyone to get involved and make a difference for the children and families of Oklahoma.”

The afternoon of April 9, beginning at 1 p.m., the third annual CAP Day Mini Conference will be held at The Samis Education and Conference Center located at 1200 Children’s Avenue in Oklahoma City.  While space is limited, the afternoon sessions will include free workshops open to the public who pre-register, featuring a variety of topics and well-respected speakers with expertise in child abuse prevention and sexual abuse prevention. To reserve a space for the conference contact:  Sherie Trice, sheriet@health.ok.gov or (405) 271-7611.

“We hope those who can attend these events will do so. Prevention is key to reducing the number of victims of child abuse and neglect. Providing new parents small but important parenting techniques can demonstrate practical ways to help relieve the stress involved in raising children,” Jacobi said.

Sherie Trice, OSDH community-based child abuse prevention grant coordinator, added, “Communities are encouraged to build a Blue Ribbon Tree as another way to participate in Child Abuse Prevention Month activities. Individuals can help by using words of praise and encouragement to a child or the caregiver, listening carefully to what a child has to say, showing that you care, and saying ‘I love you.’ These actions can have a positive impact on a child’s growth and development.” 

The OSDH offers the following parenting tips:

  • Help your children feel loved and secure, even when they do something wrong.
  • Encourage your children by praising their effort in addition to their achievements and talents.  Recognize the skills they are learning.
  • 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, and/or redirect your child’s attention by offering positive choices, and/or helping them experience appropriate consequences related to their behavior when applicable.
  • 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 OSDH encourages everyone to get involved with local activities related to Child Abuse Prevention Month using the theme It’s Your Turn – Make a Difference for Children,”  including the following:

  • Attend CAP Day at the State Capitol on Tuesday, April 9.
  • Donate a children’s book at CAP Day at the State Capitol on April 9.
  • Buy a “Child Abuse Prevention” specialty license plate. Applications for the specialty license tag called “Start Right” are available at your local tag agency. 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.”  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 that shows your support for children. 
  • Call your local library to see what materials are available for parents and childcare professionals to prevent child abuse and neglect and to learn good parenting skills.
  • Volunteer to serve on the statewide Child Abuse Prevention CAP ACTION Committee and plan to help with future activities.
  • Get involved in Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer efforts to assist children through the legal system.  Learn more by visiting this link: http://www.oklahomacasa.org/Volunteering.html.
  • Get involved with Prevent Child Abuse Oklahoma by calling Parent Promise at (405) 232-2500.

For general information about Child Abuse Prevention Month activities, to request posters for your community, and to discover ways to get involved, call the county health department in your area or contact Trice at (405) 271-7611.  

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