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The History of Child Abuse Prevention Month




The history of Child Abuse Prevention Month is built upon decades of effort by advocates; fighting to educate their communities, pushing to create and change the laws around child protection, and giving a voice to children who should not only be seen but heard. In 1983, April was declared Child Abuse Prevention month. This dedication has 3 goals:

  1.  Raise the public’s awareness of the 1 in 7 children who experienced child abuse or neglect in the past year, which is most likely a low estimate
  2. Refocus the efforts and resources geared towards protecting youth and strengthening families
  3. Foster community engagement through activities that support the cause

From the late 1800’s until now, take a look at the history of preventing child abuse.

1874: Mary Ellen Wilson was a survivor of severe child abuse by her foster mother. Her case led to the creation of The New York for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Mary Ellen’s was the first documented case of child abuse in the United States and the beginning of The History of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

1962: The article The Battered Child Syndrome by Dr. C. Henry Kempe and Brandt F. Steele was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It not only exposed the reality of child abuse but gave doctors ways to identify, understand, and report to authorities.

1967: Less than 10 years after the article’s release, all 50 states had passed a form of a mandatory reporting law for child abuse.

1974: The Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was passed. CAPTA provided federal funding to states for prevention, identification, and treatment resources. CAPTA now continues to provided the minimum standard for child maltreatment definitions and supporting efforts to stop child abuse.

1982: Congress designated June 6th-12th as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week.

1983: April is designated as the first Child Abuse Prevention Month.

1989: The Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse began when a Virginia grandmother tied a blue bow on her cars antenna; a tribute to her grandson who died as a result from child abuse.

1991: “We Can Make a Difference: Strategies for Combating Child Maltreatment” was held.

2001: The 13th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect took place and concluded that diversity allows communities to bring a wide range of approaches to help with key issues in the field of child protection.

2003: The 14th National on Child Abuse and Neglect themed “Gateways to Prevention” was help and determined that prevention on child abuse and neglect is the best defense in keeping our children safe.

2007: The 16th National Conference on Child Abuse convened, which encouraged three things in our own communities: promote healthy families, work together to provide abuse prevention, and provide support services in our communities.

2014: “Making Meaningful Connections” the theme for the 19th National Conference, focused on what is needed to continue progress moving forward in preventing child abuse and neglect.

2018: The “Family First Prevention Services Act” or FFPSA allows for federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and in-home parenting skill training.

As we enter Child Abuse Prevention Month 2020, keep the trailblazers in the back of your mind. The social workers, the advocates, the doctors, and the researchers; The victims-turned-protectors, the silence breakers, and those who continue to stand up against abuse. Every person committed to protecting all children is ultimately playing their rule in the history of child abuse prevention month.


History of Child Abuse Prevention



FULL TRANSCRIPT (The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Be Seen and Heard Journey. Please note that this episode, like all BSH Journey episodes, features Victor speaking extemporaneously–he is unscripted and unedited.)

Thank you so much for being with me today. Whether you’re watching the video or listening to the podcast, thank you. This week’s blog is all about the history of child protection. When you have a moment, please read it. It is very, very powerful. But today I want to share this idea of when people say, “You know, go change the world.” I think that’s wonderful. I mean, my goal is to change the world, but when you really think about that, is that possible? Couldn’t we look at it like this? I can change some things in myself and do things that I love to help other people…that ultimately changes the world. So I’m going to start with me and then see where it goes.

I think that’s really, really a great place to begin. I’ve had the privilege to empower kids to really be seen and heard for almost 20 years. I mean through their dreams and goals, to their self esteem, to their character development, to being respectful and kind. In the last five, six years, I’ve been creating a curriculum that truly helps children and protects them from sexual abuse.

I believe that this program is preventing it because I’m teaching kids at such a young age to have a voice and not to be tricked in the trust. And if they’re ever feeling that uncomfortable feeling, that inner siren, to have the courage to go talk about it. See, back in my day, they didn’t teach us this. I learned to be seen and NOT heard. So anything that happened to me was just swept under the carpet. We pretended that it didn’t happen and I was supposed to go to school and learn math and science. How do you do that?

And so my goal is I made it a commitment to see my childhood self every time I’m presenting my program…to see myself when I was eight, nine, ten, eleven years old in that audience saying, I’m talking to you and I’m talking to that that child who possible has been sexually abused. Hopefully, I am talking to a lot more kids that have never been abused. I’m going to empower them and help them get stronger and have a voice and never ever give up.

So am I changing the world? I don’t know. All I know is I’m changing my life first and then I start with my children and hopefully more people. So I start with me…I work my circle which are my kids and then I go to schools and help those kids have a voice to speak up and not be afraid to be seen and heard©. Please share this video with your family and friends and let’s continue to make a difference one day at a time. Thank you.