This month as we 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.

Sue Walton is a long-time supporter of Children’s Home & Aid and Parents Care & Share. She was involved from the beginning with the first Blue Bow campaign at Children’s Home & Aid in 1994. The Annual Blue Bow Award was renamed in her honor as the Walton Blue Bow Award at the 25th Anniversary of the Blue Bow Campaign in 2019. Sue shared her thoughts with us on this very important month:

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

National Child Abuse Awareness Month was formed primarily to raise awareness and identify resources available to the families and institutions that focus on family dynamics. The discussion of child abuse and neglect broke the “no talk rule”, addressing the physical, emotional and intellectual impact on our children. As a professional educator, it was the elephant in the room.

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

Education is the key to nurturing parenting. Parents often do not have realistic expectations of normal child development nor have they examined how they were raised. All socio-economic segments of society are affected with abuse and neglect.

As a volunteer for Children’s Home & Aid, I have served on boards and committees to institute policy to help parents learn to nurture their children and grow into adulthood.

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

The inequality gap has widened and job opportunities have shifted in the last 40 years. One in five children live in poverty in Illinois, have inadequate health care, childcare and education. One in ten Americans suffer with drug/alcohol addiction contributing to mental health, job loss and failure to care for dependents. Increasing numbers of grandparents are caring for children. Deployment of our military has destabilized families. The epidemic of gun violence on the street and in our homes leaves our children traumatized.

Changes can only happen with setting priorities that children are valued, families are supported and the electorate demands addressing the trends in the US. Parents Care & Share, a program of Children’s Home & Aid, uses a model of self-help, education and collaboration within the faith community, government agencies, health care and dedicated volunteers.

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

I have served on the Blue Bow Campaign committee and have supported outreach programs for over 30 years. The blue bow offers hope for children and families to find peace and love in each other. Working in collaboration with so many people in the profession of “helping “ gives me hope and faith.

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

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 advocates like Sue who continue spreading the word about the importance of child abuse prevention!