For the Children, other community partners to host several events during National Child Abuse Prevention Month

JASON CHANEY - Volunteers kicked off Child Abuse Prevention Month in Prineville by planting pinwheel gardens at the Prineville Police Department and other community locations. Pictured left to right are Heather Stuart, Debbie Seiffert and Nancy Eck.

For the Children, Crook County's child abuse prevention coalition, will be celebrating children this April by bringing awareness to safe and healthy families.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month and throughout the year, For the Children is encouraging all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Crook County a safe and healthy place for children and families.

"By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills and resources they need to care for their children, we can help prevent child abuse and neglect by making meaningful connections with children, youth and families in our community," said Kris Williams, chair of For the Children. "Research shows that protective factors are present in healthy families. Promoting these factors is among the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect."

Those factors include nurturing and attachment, knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development, parental resilience, social connections, concrete supports for parents, and social and emotional competence of children.

Locally, organizations and individuals will commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month with outward symbols of support and by hosting events that promote healthy, loving family interaction.

"We are doing what we have historically found to be effective," Williams said.

Gardens of blue pinwheels were planted at local businesses and public places Thursday morning to draw attention to child abuse prevention.

The practice originated in 2008 when Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the new national symbol for child abuse prevention through Pinwheels for Prevention.

"What their research showed, and what experiences since then have borne out, is that people respond to the pinwheel," Williams said. "By its very nature, the pinwheel connotes whimsy and childlike notions. In essence, it has come to serve as the physical embodiment, or reminder, of the great childhoods we want for all children."

For the Children is also asking local business owners and staff to wear blue to help spread the word about child abuse prevention and education in the community. The businesses will then be asked to post photos of blue-clad employees on their Facebook pages. Those photos will then be shared on the Crook County Health Department Facebook page.

The organization plans to provide blue ribbons to school children and to adults at local businesses as well. Williams said the youth will be given tie-on ribbons while the pin-on versions will be provided to adults.

In addition to these expressions of support, For the Children will sponsor a free movie, "Ferdinand," on April 21 at 10 a.m. at Pine Theater. The activity is intended to provide families an inexpensive, positive way to spend time together.

"For the Children historically had been support for MDT (Multi-Disciplinary Team) and raising funds to train police officers in (child abuse) detection and investigation," Williams said, "but we are really moving toward celebrating the families and celebrating children in more family oriented activities because that is a proven child abuse prevention strategy."

William is encouraging parents to join their children in attending the movie and to participate in other child abuse prevention support efforts throughout the month of April.

"Now is the time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children and strengthening families," she said. "Everyone's participation is crucial. Focusing on ways to connect with families is the best thing each of us can do to strengthen our community and prevent child abuse and neglect."

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