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FOR RELEASE: March 27, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Public Health Officials Offer Tips For Good Parenting April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and a time to reflect on ways to increase child abuse prevention efforts. While every community and its members play a role in helping children thrive and succeed, good parenting and a nurturing home environment are key ingredients in helping children grow up to be safe and healthy. Each week, child protective services (CPS) agencies throughout the United States receive more than 50,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. During 2004, approximately 872,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse and neglect, with an average of four child deaths occurring each day as a result of that abuse or neglect. In 2005 in Oklahoma, there were more than 13,300 confirmations of child abuse and/or neglect. During that same year, 40 Oklahoma children died as a result of child 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. This affects the health and well-being of not only the individual, but our entire state," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Crutcher. "Prevention is the key to breaking a cycle of abuse or neglect. Our local county health departments offer services that can help build healthy families and community support systems to help families thrive."

A healthy nurturing relationship between parent and child is built over time. There are no absolute guidelines to being a good parent except to show the child that he or she is loved. Since different parenting techniques work for different children under different circumstances, the Oklahoma State Department of Health's Office of Child Abuse Prevention offers the following suggestions for parents to help build healthy families:

  1. Help your children feel loved and secure. Make sure your children know you love them - even when they do something wrong.
  2. Encourage your children by praising their achievements and talents and recognizing the skills they are developing.
  3. Spend time with you children doing things that you both enjoy. Listen to them.  
  4. 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.
  5. 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, healthcare provider, faith leader, or counselor about what you are experiencing, or join a support group for parents.

For those interested in supporting child abuse prevention activities outside of your own home, please consider participating in these efforts:

  1. Many libraries across Oklahoma are promoting positive parenting techniques during the month of April.  Contact your local library for useful books and videos.  In particular, a video series, "I Am Your Child" is on every library shelf (and available in Spanish in some libraries).  This series includes 12 DVDs covering a variety of topics for parents and professionals.
  2. Participate in Child Abuse Prevention Day at the State Capitol on Tuesday, April 10.  A number of activities are scheduled.
  3. Increase awareness of child abuse prevention in your community by volunteering to serve on your local District Task Force for Child Abuse Prevention.  These task forces not only work together throughout the year, but also sponsor activities throughout the month of April in order to highlight the need for more prevention efforts. 
  4. Check with your local District Task Force for Child Abuse Prevention to see if your community is sponsoring a "Pinwheels for Prevention" project where events are scheduled to place a pinwheel for every child abused or neglected in that county during 2005.

For more information about these and other child abuse prevention activities, or to learn the Child Abuse Prevention District Task Force Coordinator in your area, please contact Sherie Trice at the Oklahoma State Department of Health at 405-271-7611, or email SherieT@health.ok.gov.


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