April marks the time to recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Blue Bow Campaign. We’re highlighting a handful of sponsors and committee members to learn what the month means to them and why it’s so crucial.

Karen Petties – an active, dedicated member of our Blue Bow Committee who organizes Blue Bow events at her place of worship – Broadview Missionary Baptist Church – shared her thoughts on this very important month:

Why is Child Abuse Prevention Month so important? Why is it so meaningful to you?

Child Abuse Prevention month is meaningful and important to me because I am an advocate for children, who are precious and innocent human beings. As a retired educator of 35 years, I realized that children growing up in a nurturing environment have a greater chance of success than those growing up in a dysfunctional one.

What is your approach to preventing child abuse? How are you helping to prevent it?

My approach to child abuse prevention is education. As an educator, I regularly presented workshops to parents on discipline, handling the disagreeable child and other topics of interest to parents relating to making their child successful. My approach was to show parents how to positively relate before disciplining their children. One strategy discussed is to take time and take a deep breath; don’t jump into the situation. We also discussed the importance of communication.

As a member of the Child Protection Committee of Broadview Missionary Baptist Church, I continue the education of child abuse. We recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. We lead a prayer service and as a congregation we pray for the safety of all children. We have some type of gathering (breakfast, brunch, workshop, one year, bowling, “Strike Out Against Child Abuse”) to share information to help educate people about child abuse. We culminate with Blue Bow Sunday where our minister preaches an inspirational sermon of hope, love and protection for our children. For the month of April, we have a resource table in the vestibule of the church for the congregation to select informational literature and receive a blue bow lapel pin.

What trends/changes have you seen regarding child abuse over the years? What is making a difference in moving the needle?

The statistics show child abuse is still on the rise. Being a proponent of education, I feel the best way to move the needle upward is ongoing education to parents, relatives and all childcare givers. The biggest challenge is getting the parents and childcare givers to respond to the opportunities to broaden their education on issues of raising children. I think it is also important to engage parents in activities with their children that can present a positive environment for the family.

What do you want people to know about preventing child abuse?

Prevention is the key to saving our youth. I did a poster campaign with some elementary students.  The students expressed that when adults are angry, they abuse children. We discussed how we could help adults with their anger, so they won’t abuse children.

Here are their suggestions to adults:

  1. Listen to me
  2. Talk to me
  3. Stop, let’s talk it out
  4. Ask for help
  5. Control your temper
  6. Understand me
  7. Get a hobby
  8. Calm down
  9. Tell me to stop
  10. Tell me how you feel
  11. You’re not supposed to hit kids, you’re supposed to love them

How can others help make a difference?

Everyone can make a difference. Child abuse prevention can be and should be promoted in the schools, workplace, the community, the churches and with friends and neighbors.

What do you do to recognize the month? What does the blue bow mean to you?

At my church we distribute Blue Bow lapel pins. The physical blue bow is a symbol of a tragic child abuse experience. To me it is more than just a physical symbol. It is a belief of hope and healing. Wearing the Blue Bow reminds me there is hope. Hope that the realization of child abuse will become prevalent and there is a great need to lessen the statistics. Hope that someone who knows of an abused child or an abusive situation will do and say something. Hope that children will have the opportunity to grow up and be happy, healthy, successful adults who make a valuable contribution to our world.

With a number of family strengthening programs including Doula, Home Visiting and Parents Care & Share, Children’s Home & Aid helps prevent child abuse by supporting parents and helping them build stronger bonds with their children.

We are grateful to have an advocate like Karen who continues spreading the word about the importance of child abuse prevention!