Updated: Apr 16, 2021
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
Elementary Education scholar, Jayda Miller pictured at Cascade Park
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, here in Tallahassee, Florida, the Tallahassee Police Department is devoted to the protection of children. The TPD has a team that investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect, in the city. The team also develops partnership in the community with organizations and child welfare agencies, to ensure children’s safety.
Locally places such as the Ounce of Prevention Fund and Lauren’s Kids are an active part of the solution. Ounce of Prevention Fund focuses on more than just child abuse, they are a public-private organization that collects, state and private dollars to invest into their initiative, and other community programs fighting for the same cause. Overall they focus on serving at-risk children and their families. In addition, the Ounce of Prevention Fund is one of Florida's true health and human services success stories. They also take on the role of housing statewide initiatives, including the voluntary home visiting program, Healthy Families Florida, and the Florida Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America.
Lauren’s Kids however focuses more on child sexual abuse. At Lauren’s Kids, they are committed to raising awareness about child sexual abuse, providing victims of child sexual abuse with valuable and supportive guidance and recovery resources, and preventing child abuse by educating adults and children alike. Lauren’s Kids hopes to empower parents, teachers, and other leaders in the community and promote the prevention of child sex abuse in Tallahassee.
With April being National Child Abuse month, Claire VanSusteren says how important and meaningful this month is to them every year. It gives them an opportunity to shine a light in some of the dark places that there is not a lot of conversation about. Their goal is to always educate and show awareness to abuse.
“We can’t stop every piece of abuse, but we know that when we educate children and adults, we can alert people to unsafe behaviors,”, Van Susteren said. “We know that 95% of abuse is preventable with education and awareness.”
Barbara Moham, a Dallas principal, says it is very important for her team to be aware of child abuse signs.
“It is so crucial that we notify our faculty and staff on the signs of abuse,” Moham said. “We have to pay very close attention to many factors, so we can make sure a child’s situation doesn’t go unnoticed, and we can get them the help they need.”
Although the idea of hurting a defenseless baby or toddler is not what usually comes to mind when many think of child abuse they are the largest age range for abuse. According to childhelp.org, “More than 70% of the children who died as a result of child abuse or neglect were two years of age or younger.”
Child abuse isn’t a made-up thing that happens on television. It’s a real issue that is seen in our local community. Just recently a woman in Tallahassee named Te’Lea Jefferson was arrested for the murder of a three-year-old toddler with a tire iron.
In this case and like many others, the adult was angered and allowed their inability to control their anger to take the life of a young child. But why do people abuse children? There is not just one answer to this sad question.
The TPD shared that “nearly 700,000 children are abused in The United States each year, according to the National Children’s Alliance.” It is factual that this crime can be preventable through their efforts, so the TPD joined with Prevent Child Abuse Florida about a new vehicle wrap and revealed it on April 7, 2021, to help raise child abuse awareness.
The TPD hosted a Child abuse prevention month kick-off event.
TPD officers created a pinwheel garden in front of TPD’s Headquarters on Seventh Avenue as an effort of the National Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign to signify their commitment to helping children in Tallahassee.
The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness that child abuse can be prevented and eliminated through education, awareness, and community support. The goal is for citizens to be aware of child abuse signs, so they can act, to potentially save a child. TPD officers were accompanied during this event by children from Scottsdale Academy. The blue and silver pinwheel garden symbolizes “the health and happiness that all children deserve.”
“April is an extremely important month to our department every year. Our team does tremendous work to dismantle child abuse and neglect, and through awareness efforts and partnerships, we're able to help educate the community about prevention and support resources,” Chief Lawrence Revell said on Facebook. “Together, we can make great childhoods a reality for more Tallahassee children.”
On the TPD Facebook page, they provided a very common sign to look for if you think a child is being abused or is at risk for abuse.
“One sign you might see is children who have unexplained behavior changes around certain individuals,” TPD Special Victims Unit Investigator, Kyle Rowland said.
The TPD Special Victims Unit, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Lauren’s Kids, and many more organizations around the world, does very important work to combat these issues and they work around the clock every single day.
“If you’d like to receive more information on how to help prevent child abuse, visit www.preventchildabusefl.org.The TPD wants people to remember it only takes one caring adult to help a child in need. If you suspect child abuse or neglect, call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873.”