Health & Safety

April 12, 2012

Child abuse prevention month: the history

Child Welfare Information Gateway

Increasing public awareness of the need to ensure the safety and welfare of children led to the passage of the first Federal child protection legislation, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, in 1974. While CAPTA has been amended many times over the years, most recently with the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, the purpose of the original legislation remains intact. Today, the Children’s Bureau, within the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the Federal agency charged with supporting States, Tribes, and communities in providing programs and services to protect children and strengthen families.

In the early 1980s, Congress made a further commitment to identifying and implementing solutions to end child abuse. Recognizing the alarming rate at which children continued to be abused and neglected and the need for innovative programs to prevent child abuse and assist parents and families affected by maltreatment, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives resolved that the week of June 6-12, 1982, should be designated as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week. Members of Congress requested the President issue a proclamation calling upon Government agencies and the public to observe the week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities promoting the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

The following year, in 1983, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month. As a result, child abuse and neglect awareness activities are promoted across the country during April of each year. The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect within the Children’s Bureau coordinates Child Abuse Prevention Month activities at the Federal level, providing information and releasing updated national statistics about child abuse and neglect. Many governors also issue proclamations to encourage initiatives and events in their States.

In 1989, the Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse began as a Virginia grandmother’s tribute to her grandson who died as a result of abuse. She tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her car as a way to remember him and to alert her community to the tragedy of child abuse. The Blue Ribbon Campaign has since expanded across the country; many people wear blue ribbons each April in memory of those who have died as a result of child abuse and in support of efforts to prevent abuse. Based on Prevent Child Abuse America’s inwheels for Prevention® campaign, some communities distribute pinwheels and coordinate outdoor pinwheel displays representing children affected by abuse or neglect. Regardless of the type of activity, the focus has shifted to a positive message of supporting families and strengthening communities to prevent child abuse and neglect.

In Title II of the CAPTA amendments of 1996, the Children’s Bureau was charged with identifying a lead agency in each State for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention grants. These grants support the development, operation, and expansion of initiatives to prevent child abuse and neglect, as well as the coordination of resources and activities to strengthen and support families to reduce the likelihood of child maltreatment. CBCAP grantees within each State often take leadership roles in coordinating special events and preparing materials to support Child Abuse Prevention Month, and they are required to report annually on their activities.

In 2003, as part of the 20th anniversary of the original Presidential Proclamation designating April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, OCAN launched the National Child Abuse Prevention Initiative as a year-long effort.

For the full history of Child Abuse Prevention Month and more information on how you can help, visit http://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/preventionmonth/history.cfm




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