This month as we recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Blue Bow Campaign, we’re highlighting a handful of partners, advocates and staff to learn what the month means to them and why it’s so crucial.
Mike Shaver, President & CEO of Children’s Home & Aid, shared his thoughts about this very important month:
Why is Child Abuse Prevention Month so important? Why is it so meaningful to you?
Child Abuse Prevention Month is important because this is a problem we can fix. Our failure to address child maltreatment results in social and economic costs that outpace chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Research also shows that for every dollar invested in child abuse prevention we save more than six dollars in societal costs stemming from the occurrence of child maltreatment.
What is your approach to preventing child abuse? How are you helping to prevent it?
We should see child abuse as a community challenge and a public health challenge – not a parent problem that should always be solved by waiting for a crisis that requires child protective services. Public policy and public investment must move upstream by investing in solving the minor challenges faced by vulnerable families rather than waiting for the crisis that requires more expensive interventions after the fact.
What trends/changes have you seen regarding child abuse over the years? What is making a difference in moving the needle?
I am convinced we are at a tipping point in our work in child abuse prevention, and that we have finally turned the corner in terms of seeing parents and extended family as part of the solution rather than the problem. We have our work cut out for us in scaling what works, building adequate systems and matching our responses to the unique needs of vulnerable families, but we are moving upstream to invest in the right solutions that go to the root causes of child maltreatment.
What do you want people to know about preventing child abuse?
We can end the need for foster care as we know it by investing in prevention and the parenting capacity of the most vulnerable and isolated among us. There is simply no good reason that half a million children should have to fall asleep each night in a home that is not their own.
How can others help make a difference?
More than anything else, reframe child abuse as a problem with a solution. It is not a simple matter of bad parenting, unlucky children or anything else that blames the victim. We know isolation, stress and a lack of basic resources are primary drivers of child maltreatment, not the absence of love and commitment from parents.
What do you do to recognize the month? What does the blue bow mean to you?
For the month of April I release my alter-ego Mr. Blue. He wears blue, eats blue, sleeps blue—all with the hope that we will fix the preventable, potential-robbing malady we know as child abuse. The blue bow is a reminder that we can do better and must do better for children—nothing less will do.
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.