National Child Abuse Prevention Month is observed every April across the United States. The blue ribbons associated with this month have been used since 1989 — six years after President Ronald Reagan declared the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April 1983. In the decades since then, state and local governments have thrown their support behind the tradition. Every year, advocates and nonprofits across the nation use April to spread awareness of child abuse and its effects on our nation’s children.
If you’re wondering how you can contribute to this important cause, here are five practical suggestions.
Attend Local Events — and Invite Your Friends
Take the time to look for local events hosted by child advocacy organizations during the month of April. Make plans to attend, and don’t forget to invite others!
Your local CASA or child advocacy center (CAC) is likely to plant a blue pinwheel garden, host a Superhero 5K, or encourage supports to wear blue on a certain day. You can also find a variety of conferences, symposiums, and other informative events that center around child abuse prevention in April. In May, local chapters of the international organization Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) often organize a 100-mile ride to raise awareness.
If you can’t find any prominent events in your community, plan one yourself! Organize a fundraiser for a local or national nonprofit that serves children, or ask your church to observe the Blue Sunday Day of Prayer on the last Sunday of April.
Plant a Pinwheel Garden
Planting your own pinwheel garden is a relatively simple and affordable way to raise awareness. The pinwheels are eye-catching and make a great conversation starter. Just make sure you’re armed with information and resources to share. Brush up local child advocacy organizations, abuse prevention efforts, and ways that community members can support them.
You don’t need to plant a huge garden. Filling a planter with pinwheels or keeping one in your pencil holder at work will do the trick.
Perhaps the simplest way to show your support is by wearing blue during the month of April. See if you can get your entire office to join in, or organize a “wear blue” day through your school or church.
For a solo effort, make your blue shirt count by buying one that features an abuse prevention message or the logo for a child advocacy nonprofit, such as Prevent Child Abuse America. You can also purchase water bottles, blue ribbon pins, and other Child Abuse Prevention Month gear online through several retailers and organizations.
You don’t need pinwheels or blue ribbons to start a conversation about child abuse prevention. Help make your community a safer place for children by speaking openly with friends and family about important topics such as body safety and abuse dynamics. Teach people about grooming tactics, signs of abuse, and how to report suspected abuse. Ask questions about your church’s child protection policy. Empower and protect your kids by giving them the information and skills they need to prevent abuse.
Practice What You Preach — All Year Long
It’s not enough to talk about child abuse prevention. To stop abuse, we much each be willing to speak up and step in. Learn the signs of abuse, and if you suspect a child is being abused, report it. Don’t assume someone else will do it; you may be that child’s best or only hope for intervention — especially if the child has been socially isolated or is too young to attend school.
Support your local child advocacy center, CASA, and other important organizations by donating or volunteering. Insist that organizations you are involved with follow best practices for child protection. Listen to your children when they talk about small things so they’ll know they can trust you with big things. Back them up when they refuse to hug Aunt Enid so they know they can say no when a situation makes them uncomfortable.