April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month; DHS Highlights Child Abuse Prevention Efforts

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) believes that protecting Pennsylvania’s children from abuse and neglect is a vitally important responsibility. It’s a cause that requires collaboration from the child protective services system, community partners, and citizens to provide safety nets for children and families throughout the commonwealth.

During the month of April, the Department encourages all Pennsylvanians to wear or display blue ribbons as a way to signify the importance of child abuse prevention. In addition, DHS will display the Children’s Memorial Flag in honor of children who have died as a result of child abuse or neglect.

“It’s everyone’s job to help make Pennsylvania a better place for children and families,” said DHS Acting Secretary Ted Dallas. “By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources to care for their children, we can keep kids safe and help them grow into successful adults.”

In partnership with counties, schools and community organizations, the Department is promoting evidence-based programs that give parents the skills and supports, both formal and informal, that they need to prevent child abuse and neglect. By working together and relying on natural supports like family members and neighbors, we can improve outcomes for families and protect our children.

At the annual child abuse prevention breakfast in Harrisburg this morning, Acting Secretary Dallas presented Governor Tom Wolf’s proclamation recognizing Child Abuse Prevention Month. The breakfast brought together DHS, the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, child welfare workers, advocates, and members of the General Assembly to discuss the importance of child abuse prevention.

Last year, DHS partnered with the General Assembly to enact 23 pieces of legislation and hired additional staff to strengthen Pennsylvania’s response to child abuse and neglect cases. These pieces of legislation will ultimately strengthen the state’s ability to protect children by amending the definitions of child abuse and perpetrator, streamlining and clarifying reporting processes, increasing penalties for failure to report abuse, protecting those reporting abuse, and better tracking child abuse data. Additionally, DHS continues to work with the legislature and key stakeholders to formalize and streamline processes aimed at making the laws work for children and communities throughout the Commonwealth.

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, DHS offers an around-the-clock, toll-free hotline, ChildLine, 1-800-932-0313. For more information on critical components impacting child protection visit: www.KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov.

Editor’s Note:

PROCLAMATION

CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH

April 2015

WHEREAS, every child in the Commonwealth deserves to be cared for by adults who provide love, protection and a safe environment; and

WHEREAS, protected and unharmed childhoods produce self-assured and successful adults; and

WHEREAS, children who are abused and neglected can become permanently disabled and psychologically distressed adults, experiencing problems with substance abuse, crime or domestic violence against others, including their own children; and

WHEREAS, in Pennsylvania, 3,425 reports of child abuse were substantiated in 2013; and

WHEREAS, child abuse includes physical and psychological wounds inflicted upon a child, and abuse survivors wear physical and emotional scars for the rest of their lives; and

WHEREAS, protecting children against abuse and neglect requires the involvement of everyone—a combined effort is imperative to help families break the chains of abuse; and

WHEREAS, many dedicated organizations continue to work in cooperation with federal and state governments to increase public awareness and promote individual and community action as they strive to eradicate this devastating form of violence, protect children, and help build healthy families and communities where children can reach their potential.

THEREFORE, I, Tom Wolf, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby proclaim April 2105 as CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH in Pennsylvania and encourage all citizens to cherish our children and join in protecting them from all forms of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

GIVEN under my hand and the Seal of the Governor, at the City of Harrisburg, on this first day of April in the Year of our Lord two thousand and fifteen, and of the Commonwealth, the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

TOM WOLF

Governor

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