April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County’s future success relies on the healthy growth and development of all children. During April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services encourages everyone to come together to ensure that all children have the safe, stable, nurturing environments they need to thrive.

“Child and youth development is the foundation for community and economic development,” said Christine Schuyler, Director of Health & Human Services. “When children experience abuse and neglect, their maturing brains are damaged. This can lead to poor outcomes for the child and the community, including academic failure, chronic long-term mental and medical health issues, substance abuse and violence.”

Chautauqua County is not immune to child abuse and neglect. The Child Protective Services Unit of the Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services investigated 2,357 State Central Registry reports of suspected child abuse or neglect in 2013.

“Child abuse unfairly strips children of their innocence, rips families apart, and compromises the health and well-being of children and families. It’s important to provide our children with the chance to succeed mentally, emotionally, and physically every day,” said Schuyler. “On the heels of the release of the County Health Rankings, I’m hopeful that the direct correlation that exists between child maltreatment and poor health outcomes can be seen. Abuse harms more than just an individual child’s chances for success – it harms all of us,” added Schuyler.

HHS, along with Court Appointed Special Advocates, law enforcement, the Child Advocacy Program, and many other partners encourage all citizens to learn more about the short and long term effects of child abuse and neglect on the child and on the community during April. One of the most effective ways to prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring is to ensure that all parents have the knowledge, skills, resources, and social support they need to provide safe, stable, nurturing environments for their children.

Pinwheels for Prevention

Pinwheels are a symbol of a happy, carefree childhood and the belief that getting it right for kids early is less costly than trying to fix problems after things go wrong. Everyone has a role in preventing child abuse and supporting families. Individuals, businesses, schools, community organizations, volunteers, policy makers and families are also encouraged to get involved by planting their own pinwheel gardens.

To learn more on how you can make a difference, contact the Court Appointed Special Advocates at www.chautauquacasa.com or log on to www.pinwheelsforprevention.org.