The History of Child Abuse Prevention Month
In the early 1980s, Congress made a commitment to identifying and implementing solutions to child abuse. Recognizing the alarming rate at which children are 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. They asked the President to issue a proclamation calling upon Government agencies and the public to observe the week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
The following year, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Since then, child abuse and neglect awareness activities have been promoted across the country during April of each year.
In 1989, the Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse had its early beginnings 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, and many wear blue ribbons each April in memory of those who have died as a result of child abuse. Most recently, the focus has shifted toward a more positive message of celebrating "blue ribbon" individuals, organizations, and communities who have done much to prevent child abuse and neglect.
In 2003, as part of the 20th anniversary of the original Presidential Proclamation designating April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, the National Child Abuse Prevention Initiative was recast as a year-long effort. This initiative was launched at the 14th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, which was devoted to the theme of prevention. A national press conference was held for the release of the publication Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
In 2004, there was consensus among national child abuse prevention organizations and related Federal agencies that building public will for child abuse prevention required engaging the public in efforts to strengthen and support families and enhance parenting skills. Building on this national momentum, the focus shifted from child abuse prevention resources to incorporate a family strengthening message promoting parenting and community support. Today, the Child Abuse Prevention Initiative is an opportunity for communities across the country to keep children safe, provide the support families need to stay together, and raise children and youth to be happy, secure, and stable adults.
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