Your Local Public Health Departments
Can Play a Vital Part in Building Community, Building Hope
Millions of children and adolescents are exposed to violence and experience child abuse and neglect early in life. Exposure to violence, abuse and neglect is a significant problem, as it can cause serious physical, mental, and emotional health problems and lead to injuries and death.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), representing nearly 3,000 local health departments across the nation, supports leadership and capacity-building in local communities to prevent and reduce children’s abuse and neglect. Local health departments play an important role in local systems that serve children to reduce rates of abuse and neglect, both as direct service providers and as coordinating agencies.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month and throughout the year, NACCHO encourages local health departments to observe National Child Abuse Prevention Month by implementing policies, programs, and strategies that help prevent child maltreatment and exposure to violence, and provide for children’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs. Every young person deserves the right to grow up safe, healthy, and free from violence.
“Local health departments provide critical services and programs that support families and promote safe, stable, and nurturing environments for children,” said William M. Barnes, PhD, MBA, NACCHO’s Acting Executive Director and Chief Program Officer.
“Children can be safeguarded through home visitation programs such as Nurse Family Partnership and Healthy Families America; therapeutic interventions, including cognitive behavioral therapy and strengthening families; and evidenced-based parenting education programs such as the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program. Creating an environment that supports children and families is effective in reducing child abuse and neglect.”
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. They are:
- Nurturing and attachment
- Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
- Parental resilience
- Social connections
- Concrete supports for parents
- Social and emotional competence of children
In support of these efforts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Technical Package for Policy, Norm, and Programmatic Activities (2016). This resource presents a select group of strategies based on the best available evidence to help prevent child abuse and neglect.