Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) and other child welfare organizations nationwide recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month each April. Traditionally, awareness month events include wearing blue (#WearBlueDay), planting pinwheel “gardens,” and official proclamations read by elected officials in support of efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect.
On March 31, President Joseph Biden issued the Proclamation on National Child Abuse Prevention Month, 2021. It emphasizes the importance of child abuse prevention during a time of national crisis: “As we begin to emerge from a year of unprecedented stress and hardship, children and families need our support more than ever. The confluence of a devastating pandemic and the worst economic crisis in nearly a century have increased the risk for child abuse and neglect as Americans grapple with the compounding challenges of school and child care facility closures, social isolation, and increased financial instability.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a 22% drop in child abuse reports in Pennsylvania. And while fewer reports may sound like good news, it’s not; rather than indicate a decrease in the rate of abuse, the statistic more likely suggests the reality that school closures and stay-at-home orders resulted in less opportunity for mandated reporters—such as teachers, coaches, and childcare workers—to observe vulnerable children in settings outside the home.
Despite the health and safety challenges of 2020, CACs in Pennsylvania continued to serve children and families throughout our state. This month, we celebrate the dedication of CAC staff and our multidisciplinary partners who together work hard every day to stop abuse and help children heal. Here are photos of some April awareness month events taking place now in the Keystone State!