2021 Child Abuse Prevention Month Toolkit: Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together
Messages and images in the 2021 Child Abuse Prevention Month toolkit reflect current prevention approaches, social norms change, social marketing best practices, and communication realities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with Prevent Child Abuse America, our goal is to unify the communication activities of our state and national partners with this user-friendly toolkit of assets, with clear calls to action that motivate the prevention of child abuse and neglect in April and throughout the year.
Child Abuse Prevention Month Media Toolkit
2021 National Theme
April is Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Month, a time to act collectively to raise awareness and empower people across the nation to play a role in making great childhoods happen. Throughout this crucial CAP Month, we’re reinforcing the message that “Every day, we help positive childhood experience take root!”
- Children are locally grown. We work together to cultivate relationships, connections, and environments that help every child thrive.
- We harvest what we sow. We plant seeds of support for all children to yield healthier adults with abundant futures.
- Our work is rooted in science. We know positive childhood experiences in nurturing environments provide fertile ground for physical and mental health, learning, and social skills to flourish.
- We unearth the possibilities. We focus on innovation every day to give every child what they need and to build bountiful, safe communities.
- Planning and purpose create common ground. We share resources equitably, expand access to services, and balance conditions for positive childhood experiences to enrich every community.
- We tend and replenish the soil. We offer homegrown solutions and hardy support to protect what we grow in all elements.
- Hope and commitment are powerful fertilizers. We combine the promise of a better tomorrow with our resolve to nourish all children and their families in every season.
Key Messages & Talking Points
Why Does It Matter?
We are the stewards of the next generation. We know that our ability to raise healthy children who will lead tomorrow’s communities requires smart and innovative thinking today. Children are shaped by their earliest experiences and relationships. Creating safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for Georgia’s children allows healthy brain development and promotes lifelong learning and success.
What is the Issue?
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as child abuse and neglect, can cause high levels of stress. When stress is frequent and prolonged, it can dramatically change how the brain develops. In the absence of supportive relationships and community resources, these early adversities can affect a person’s health, educational obtainment, and economic opportunity over their lifespan and can even carry over to the next generation.
While abuse and neglect occurs in families from all ethnicities, it is important to acknowledge that families of color continue to face systemic racism and differential access to supportive services that protect against abuse.
How Do We Solve It:
Child abuse and neglect is caused by multiple factors related to the individual, family, community, and society at large. Environments that have high rates of violence, inequitable access to community resources and social services, and are disproportionately affected by poverty or unemployment are contributors to child abuse.
Science shows that providing supportive and positive conditions for early childhood can prevent or even reverse the damaging effects of early life stress, with lifelong benefits for learning, behavior, and health. Addressing community adversities and providing concrete supports to families and children is more effective and less costly than attempting to address the consequences of adversity later in life. By removing barriers to supports for all families and investing in policies and programs that work to overcome individual and widespread adversities, we can create a state where all children thrive.
Who Can Solve It?
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to celebrate the good things our community does and lift up the work and partners we still need to ensure every child has the chance to thrive. Below are a few examples of how caring and innovative adults, including policy makers, business leaders, and community members can prevent child abuse and neglect or other early adversities. To see a more detailed list of roles and actions to help Georgia’s families thrive go to: www.BelongingForHope.org/Roles.
- Business Leaders can promote a culture of parent support.
- Policy Makers can identify and assess which policies may positively impact the lives of children and families and reduce possible barriers to families receiving needed supports and resources.
- Faith Communities can offer space for parent and youth activities.
- Family and Youth Serving Organizations can train staff on preventing, recognizing, and responding to child abuse and neglect.
- Educators can follow-up if something seems wrong with a child and be ready to give families local resources that might help families in their district.
- Friends and Neighbors can help break the social isolation some parents may experience or encourage parents to seek support when needed by calling the 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373) Helpline.
- Individuals can volunteer for an after-school mentoring program.
Want to know how you can help? Georgia just released a State Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Plan that includes ways individuals, communities, workplaces and others can get involved. As Georgians we have the collective power to strengthen families by advocating for policies, programs, and practices that increase:
- Family Economic Stability,
- Access to Early Childhood Education,
- Family Physical and Mental Health,
- Family Resilience, and
- Community Awareness of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Strategies.
Additional Talking Points
- Being resilient means having a sense of inner strength, but it also comes from asking for help, leaning on your social connections, and understanding your children’s needs.
- The resilience of an individual depends, to a great extent, on their relationships and community.
- The systems around us—family, school, neighborhood, faith community, friends and larger community—influence the ability of both children and adults to be resilient.
- How do We Grow Resilience? Children learn resilience from external influences such as their family, caregivers and the community around them. Protective Factors and positive childhood experiences help explain why some people who experience adversity as children fare well in adulthood.
- We know by building resilience in our communities and in each other, we can better protect and support families in normal times and times of crisis.
- Remind families that some stress is normal, and parenting is stressful for everyone. The key is how you respond to it.
- Suggest that parents keep a self-care diary to help them remember to make time for themselves each day.
- Teach parents concrete strategies for relaxation. For example, guide them to take a few deep breaths and allow their body to relax while thinking of a place where they feel happy.
“To expect resilience without social justice is simply to indifferently accept the status quo.” –Dr. Hanna-Attisha, Pediatrician and Professor
- When faced with overwhelmingly stressful conditions, we all need support. But seeking out help is always not an easy thing to do.
- Help families by assisting to identify, find, and get concrete support.
- Protective factors like providing concrete support in times of need helps to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.
- Let caregivers know it is okay to ask for help! Encourage families to seek additional resources by calling the 1-800-CHILDREN (1-800-244-5373) Helpline to talk to trained professionals who can connect them with supportive programs in their area.
- Professionals can help families find resources using PCA Georgia’s online map containing over 3,000 resources that assist Georgia families at www.PCAGeorgiaHelpline.org.
- As a community, we can’t just expect or ask families to be resilient or push through every adversity. We must examine how our current systems and practices set families back or create barriers to receiving help.
- Networks of support are essential to parents and also offer opportunities for people to give back. Your social connections can be friends, family members, neighbors, and faith-based and community members. What are some ways your community is support?
- Isolated families may need extra help in reaching out to build positive relationships. Have your organization be intentional in supporting the development of relationships. Keep in mind that the quality, not just the quantity, of the social connections is important.
- Increasing social connection on a community level requires that parents have both the opportunity to engage in connectable spaces and the ability to meaningfully tap into a network once engaged.
- Providing opportunities for community members to meet and bond with one another is essential in increasing social connection. Recurring events and programs that unite community members around common themes such as parenting, community improvement, and education can make a big impact on community connectedness.
Challenge: One-Minute Kindness
Receiving a direct message or e-mail with a genuine compliment or expression of gratitude is more personal and longer lasting—without taking much more time. After all, we need a little extra kindness to counter the stress and uncertainty of the coronavirus.
Knowledge of Child Development
- Encourage parents to understand and encourage healthy development. Parents should know the value and importance of their nurturing role in their child’s life.
- Ensure that the parent or caregiver has a clear understanding and expectations for their child’s age-appropriate development and behavior. Model appropriate expectations to encourage age-appropriate parenting skills.
- Engage parents when their expectations are not in line with the child’s developmental phase; ask questions about successes and challenges, and who/what they rely on for parenting information.
- Provide parents with opportunities to network with other parents and participate in school activities such as parent education sessions. Determine which social media platforms to use to share parenting information on a regular basis.
- Encourage social-emotional development and model a range of age-appropriate ways for children to talk about social issues.
Social and Emotional Competence of Children
- Supporting children’s social and emotional development at an early age builds self-esteem and a solid foundation for their future by preparing children to successfully manage their emotions and behaviors, establish caring relationships with others, follow limits and expectations, and interact in groups.
- Support parents and caregivers by encouraging them to use warm and consistent responses that will foster a strong and secure attachment with their child.
- Ask the parent to think of an adult who they loved as a child. What was it about the relationship with that adult that made it so important? Ask them what elements of that relationship they can replicate in their relationship with their own child.
- Create environments, at home and in school, in which children feel safe to express their emotions. Be emotionally responsive to children and model empathy.
- Connect families to resources that can help support their children’s social-emotional development—these might be simple (such as books and games that help children to name or recognize their emotions) or more intensive (such as mental health counseling).
- Stay attuned to trauma and how it impacts the child’s behaviors and relationships, including taking time to explain and discuss children’s behavior with parents when they are “acting out”.
- Remember — Social and Emotional Competence is a skill we will need throughout our lives!
Social Media Content
This calendar includes sample social media posts that you can use each day during April.
Share your posts and activities with us by tagging us on Facebook @PreventGeorgia or Instagram @PreventChildAbuseGA! Remember to use this year’s theme #GrowingBetterTogether.
Physical Apart, Socially Connected
We encourage you to share how you are being a connection, support, or resource to a friend, family or community member with us @PreventGeorgia, #BeAConnection.
- Always include images. Images help grab your audience’s attention while scrolling through their social feed. Use the campaign images provided or create your own. You can find quality (and free!) stock images on websites like Unsplash.com.
- Prioritize video content. Videos have higher engagement rates and tend to outperform static image posts.
- Keep content short, colloquial and to-the-point. The more ad-like it sounds, the lower it will perform and be sure to tag your friends and organizational partners!
- Include a call-to-action to encourage your audience to engage. Whether you want people to click through to your website, share, or comment, make sure you tell your audience what you want. Your calls-to-action can be anything from an intriguing question, a “tease” to entice people to click or read more, or an explicit request.
- Don’t overload your page with donation requests, event invites, etc. Always try to add value to your page and provide interesting and informative content for your audience.
- Use Facebook Insights to help guide content development. The tool can help you learn more about the demographics of your audience, what times of day they are the most active, and which types of content are being interacted with the most.
- Interaction rates on Facebook and other platforms are highest during non-work hours (beginning after 2 PM ), so when you’re posting engaging content, try to do it in the late afternoon.
What is Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention?
ANYTHING that strengthens families and helps children thrive!
The prevention of child abuse and neglect cannot be achieved with one program or one strategy. Programs that only target caregivers are shown to improve parent-child interactions, but don’t account for other root causes of maltreatment such as social isolation, poverty, community violence, and other stressors. It requires a comprehensive approach with strategies at many different levels and with multiple sectors working together.
PCA Georgia Prevention Model
INDIVIDUAL LEVEL: Safe, Stable & Nurturing Family Relationships
- Caregivers seek supportive resources through the 1-800-CHILDREN helpline
- Caregivers attend a parenting group/class on child development
- Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention programs
- Home visiting programs: Parents as Teachers, Nurse Family Partnership, and Healthy Families
- Parenting education programs: Triple P or Nurturing Parenting
- Substance abuse or behavioral health services for parents prior to report of abuse/neglect
- Therapy for sexual abuse victims (Child Advocacy Centers of Georgia)
- Home visiting/parenting education for families referred by DFCS, like SafeCare
- Substance abuse or behavioral health services for parent/caregiver reported to DFCS
COMMUNITY LEVEL: Supportive Communities & Environments
- Abuse/domestic violence support groups and resources in communities
- Protective laws for victims and survivors of domestic violence or trafficking
SOCIETAL LEVEL: Commitments & Investments
- Equitable access and opportunities
- Accessible healthcare and quality childcare
- Housing stability and affordability
- Businesses offer paid parent leave
- Childcare subsidies for families (CAPS)
- Food and nutritional programs for women and young children (WIC)
- College grants based on income
- Federal funding to services for victims of crimes: therapy, housing, and crisis support
- Drug and criminal justice reform
What are Pinwheels for Prevention®?
Pinwheels for Prevention® is a national public awareness campaign during Child Abuse Prevention Month (CAP Month) every April. The use as Pinwheels as a symbol and “Pinwheel gardens” planted in communities across the nation are visual reminders that we all play a role in ensuring happy and healthy childhoods for all children everywhere. Their presence has resulted in increased awareness, expanded dialogue and community engagement around the healthy development of all children and the prevention of child abuse before it ever occurs.
Positive Call to Action!
Research shows that while horrific stories of child abuse and neglect may gain short-term media attention, this approach is not successful in building lasting public will for effective prevention efforts. To promote lasting change, the pinwheel messages must focus on proposing effective solutions and engaging people in positive, preventative action they can take on their own. Connecting Pinwheels and Pinwheel Gardens to community resources or needs, let others know how they can help families in their community!
- Avoid giving lots of numbers, pick just one thought-provoking statistic
- Educate people on what child abuse prevention is and looks like in action
- Talk about the importance of healthy child development
- Focus on success stories and community
- Give specific actions others (individuals, business, etc.) can do to get involved
While pinwheels are available to be purchased through many craft stores or online vendors, purchasing pinwheels from PCA Georgia supports programs and services that are helping reduce child abuse and neglect in your own state!
Involve kids throughout CAP month by using pinwheel coloring sheets and build-your-own pinwheel activities at local events and with partners.
You can download a pinwheel coloring sheet that is great for children of all ages. For older children, download instructions on how to make your own paper pinwheel!
Downloadable Activities and Resources
Print our your sign and let us know what you do to support children and families!
Tag us @PreventGeorgia
|Pinwheel Fact Sheet|
|CAP Month Community Resource Guide|
|Child Welfare Prevention Resource Guide|
WHEREAS: Children are critical to Georgia’s future success, prosperity, and quality of life. While children are our most valuable resource, they are also our most vulnerable. Children have a right to be safe and an opportunity to thrive, learn, and grow in an environment that fosters healthy development; and
WHEREAS: Child abuse and neglect can be prevented by supporting and strengthening Georgia’s families, thus preventing the far-reaching effects of maltreatment and providing the opportunity for children to develop healthy, trusting family bonds, and consequently, building the foundations of communities; and
WHEREAS: Effectively intervening in the lives of children threatened by abuse is a shared responsibility, and Georgia’s citizens must come together so that the voices of our children are heard by all. We all must ensure that our communities are extending helping hands to children and families in need; and
WHEREAS: Effective child abuse prevention strategies succeed because of partnerships created among citizens, human service agencies, schools, faith communities, health care providers, civic organizations, law enforcement agencies, and the business community; and
WHEREAS: By providing a safe and nurturing environment for our children, free of violence, abuse and neglect, we can ensure that Georgia’s children will grow to their full potential as the next generation of leaders, helping to secure the future of this state and nation; now
Therefore: I, [Name of official], [official title], do hereby proclaim April 2021, as CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH in Georgia and urge families and communities to become involved in protecting Georgia’s children.
In witness thereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of
The Executive Department to be affixed this ______ in the year two thousand and twenty-one.
Press Release Templates
Tips: Press releases are written in a journalistic style that heavily emphasizes the “Who, What, When, Where and Why” style of information-sharing. These are often written in an “inverted pyramid” style with the most important information at top and in decreasing order of importance from there so that if a media outlet prints your press release as a news story (which happens) but can only run a portion, you have conveyed the most important information.
Child Abuse Prevention Month Press Release
Child Abuse Prevention Month Recognizes Every Community’s Role in
Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together
(CITY, STATE)—[Organization] along with Prevent Child Abuse Georgia recognizes the importance of community-based support for all children and families during National Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Month in April. The theme of this year’s awareness and impact campaign is “Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together.”
We can build healthier, safer, and thriving communities if we take the same approach to raising families that we do to tending a community garden on a shared piece of land. Too often, our society thinks of raising healthy children as a parent or caregiver’s responsibility alone. In reality, we all benefit when groups of people work together to collectively care for children, who grow up to become successful, contributing adults.
“Research shows that positive childhood experiences in nurturing environments provide fertile ground for physical and mental health, learning, and social skills,” explained Dr. Melissa Merrick, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “By preventing child abuse and neglect we aim to holistically improve the lives of all families and the communities they live in.”
The risk to our nation’s children for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty is quite high. COVID-19 has added stressors to the lives of parents and caregivers, such as loss of employment, loss of income due to lack of paid leave, school and business closings that necessitate new childcare and homeschool arrangements, and food insecurity. We also know that these hardships disproportionately impact families of color. Although physical distancing alter the way families socially connect and interact with community services, we must ensure these supportive resources are still in place to help strengthen Georgian families.
Prevent Child Abuse Georgia recommends the following ways that people everywhere can dig in and help raise awareness and impact virtually during this year’s CAP Month:
- Wear blue on Thursday, April 1, National Wear Blue Day, to show support for children and families. Include the #WearBlueDay2021 and #GrowingBetterTogether in your posts.
- Join your regions efforts to implement Georgia’s Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Plan that includes ways individuals, communities, workplaces and others can get involved.
- Take a training on preventing, recognizing, and responding to child abuse using the Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children, Connections Matter, or Mandated Reporter Trainings.
- Encourage families you know to call the 1-800-CHILDREN (1-800-244-5373) Helpline to talk to trained professionals who will connect them with supportive programs in their area. You can search for support services online by local through the Georgia Resource Map atwww.PCAGeorgiaHelpline.org.
We all share a responsibility for the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children and their families. [Insert Organization] and PCA Georgia encourages everyone in the state to strengthen families throughout April.
For more ways to get involved in CAP Month, please visit www.PCAGeorgia.org.
# # #
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the editor (LTEs) get the most attention when they respond directly to a recent event or article in the news. When writing to your local news outlet, be sure to reference a specific story or community issue that’s related to child health and well-being. Also, verify the maximum word count for the outlet to which you’re writing; if your LTE is too long it will either be discarded or edited by someone else, sometimes deleting important elements. Up to 250 words is typical for local and regional papers, but many larger newspapers are limited to 150 or so, and some magazines limit letters to less than 100 words.
Letter to the editor, intended for publication
Your recent coverage of [APPLICABLE STORY IN YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER] reinforces that we all share a responsibility for the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children and their families in [Georgia or CITY]. And since April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, it’s the perfect time to help people understand that it’s possible to do the things they love and help families and their community thrive. Small steps can make a big difference in a child’s life–and a parent’s.
Everyone wants to provide and nurture their child in a positive, healthy environment, but sometimes parents need a little support along the way. That’s why we encourage community members to proactively engage parents and offer your support. Here are some suggestions:
- Volunteer for an after-school mentoring program.
- Give a new mom a break by bringing over dinner or offering to babysit.
- Coach a youth sports team to teach kids the value of teamwork—they’ll learn how to trust teammates and themselves.
- Encourage families you know to call the 1-800-CHILDREN (1-800-244-5373) Helpline to talk to trained professionals who will connect them with supportive programs in their area.
- Go online to use the 1-800-CHILDREN Resource Map, PCAGeorgiaHelpline.org, which contains over 3,000 local and statewide programs designed to assist and support families. See what services are available in the areas you live.
Collectively, these small steps will help create better, brighter futures for children and families in [STATE or CITY].
Short Sample (150 words)
Letter to the editor, intended for publication
Your recent coverage of [APPLICABLE STORY IN YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER] reinforces that we all share a responsibility for the well-being of children and their families in [STATE or CITY]. And since April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, it’s the perfect time to help people understand that it’s possible to do the things they love and help families and their community thrive.
All parents want to provide and nurture their child in a positive, healthy environment, but sometimes they need a little extra support along the way. That’s why I encourage everyone to proactively engage parents in their community and offer your support—whether it’s by making a meal for the family or reading to a child. An easy way for professionals and caregivers to find supportive resources in their community is by calling 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373), PCAGeorgiaHelpline.org.
Collectively, these small steps will help create better, brighter futures for children and families in [STATE or CITY].
Faith communities to help prevent child sexual abuse
God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb is an invaluable resource and beautifully illustrated story to help families talk about sensitive issues with two- to eight-year-old children.
Because the private parts of our bodies are private, home is the ideal environment for a child to learn about his or her body and how it should be treated by others—without conveying a message of shame.
Through carefully written language and relatable storytelling, God Made All of Me helps parents navigate discussion that can so easily be warped into confusion, embarrassment, and secrecy.
Instead of instilling a message that their bodies are shameful—which can often prevent children from recognizing and reporting sexual abuse—Justin and Lindsey Holcomb equip parents to build a first line of defense against sexual abuse in the safety of their own homes. Read more...
PCA Georgia recommends adding a 1-800-CHILDREN (1-800-244-5373) Helpline sticker to this book if you are planning to distribute them. This book may raise questions for parents or caregivers and 1-800-CHILDREN is design to help parents with tough questions and locate local resources that support families. Download stickers to print on Avery Template 5293 or request stickers be mailed directly to you.
WE CAN- Work to End Child Abuse and Neglect -The Children’s Bureau and CANTASD offers a collection (over 100) of social media posts and images.
Shared Message Bank – Early Childhood Colorado Partnership
Belonging for Hope– GA DFCS Prevention and Community Support Section
This toolkit is for use by the Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America) chapter network only. We encourage you to leverage your local partners to help spread the word, but please note that the CAP Month artwork and campaign elements, including images and image licenses, are property of PCA America and our state chapters. Any campaign components shared with and used by a local partner must be attributed to PCA America or your state chapter (preferably both). This means they must mention PCA America or your chapter in their outreach efforts, and logos should be included on all elements accordingly. (In previous years, chapters had issues with local partners taking PCA America campaign components and using them as their own, without proper attribution, thus diluting our network’s awareness efforts and jeopardizing our license agreement.)
Please also note that Pinwheels for Prevention® and the blue pinwheel mark are both trademarked by PCA America. Therefore, partners cannot use these elements without written permission from the state chapter and, if used, must be accompanied with the PCA America/state chapter logo for proper attribution. Any partner who uses these trademarked components without written permission or misuses the marks will be notified of trademark infringement.
Please Note: that Pinwheels for Prevention® and the blue pinwheel mark are both trademarked by Prevent Child Abuse America. All campaign material must be attributed to PCA Georgia. If you have any questions, need assistance customizing any of the campaign components, or need help with trademarked materials or any other partner-related questions, please contact us at PreventChildAbuseGA@gsu.edu. We also ask that pinwheels are not used with negative or graphic content (a common example is the number of child deaths in a given year) because prevention is about promoting programs and resources that strengthen families.