Unfortunately, thousands of children in Iowa are affected by child abuse each year. Fortunately, there are several organizations in the Des Moines area whose missions are to assist in the prevention of child abuse and provide services to children who have been abused.
So What is Child Abuse?
The Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act defines child abuse and neglect or child maltreatment as:
Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
- Neglect is a failure to meet the child’s basic needs, e.g., not providing enough food, shelter or basic supervision, necessary medical or mental health treatment, adequate education or emotional comfort.
- Physical abuse refers to the injury of a child on purpose, e.g., striking, kicking, beating, biting or any action that leads to physical injury.
- Sexual abuse is the use, persuasion or forcing of a child to engage in sexual acts or imitation of such acts.
Child Abuse Prevention Month Activities 4 Families in Des Moines
Here are just a few ways your family can help raise awareness that child abuse is preventable and how you can play a part. Ideas provided by Prevent Child Abuse Iowa.
- Speak Up for Prevention – Talk about child abuse prevention in your community. Post to social media and write to your elected officials and let them know you care about preventing child abuse and neglect to Iowa’s children.
- “Blue Out” Day – Designate a day in which everyone in your family or your child’s school wears blue in support of child abuse prevention. Honor those who participate in a newsletter or with a small prize.
- Parent Education – Share positive parenting messages and information about prevention. A couple of great handouts include 25 Ways to Be a Loving Parent or Words Your Child Needs to Hear.
- Child Education – Teach your children about recognizing abuse. Kidpower is a great website with awesome learning tools and resources.
- Take action! – Organize a small fundraiser to raise awareness in your community, volunteer or serve on a committee or board.
The blue pinwheel is a symbol of the joyful, carefree childhood all children deserve and is a national symbol for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
- Coloring Contest – Hold a pinwheel coloring contest and display the artwork in a public space. Here’s a pinwheel coloring sheet you can use.
- Pinwheel Garden – Plant a pinwheel garden as a public display of support for Iowa’s children.
- Pinwheel Bouquets – Have the kids set up a “Pinwheel Stand” and sell individual pinwheels. All money collected can be donated to a local organization that provides child abuse prevention services.
- Pinwheel Scavenger Hunt – Set up a pinwheel scavenger hunt around your neighborhood. Families who can spot all the pinwheels are entered to win a prize.
For additional ideas visit: http://www.pcaiowa.org/grantees/public-awareness/child-abuse-prevention-month/.
Pedaling for Prevention
Superheroes Pedaling for Prevention is an annual bike ride hosted by Prevent Child Abuse Iowa. The Family Ride will be on May 14th, 2016. It’s a bike ride for all ages with a two-mile loop and superhero training stops for the kids along the way. More details through pcaiowa.org/superheroes.
Organizations That Provide Child Abuse Prevention Services in Des Moines
Contact Information for Local and County Child Welfare Agencies – Iowa Department of Human Services
Child Abuse Prevention Council of Warren County
Children and Families of Iowa
Lutheran Services in Iowa
Polk County CAN Prevention Council
Polk County Community, Family & Youth Services
Prevent Child Abuse Iowa
Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa
YMCA Fatherhood Course
Youth Emergency Shelter and Services (YESS)
Youth & Shelter Services, Inc.
To Report Child Abuse in the State of Iowa
If you suspect a child under the age of 18 is being abused or neglected:
- If you believe the child is in imminent danger, CALL 911 immediately.
- Call the Abuse Hotline at 1-800-362-2178, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Please be ready to provide identifying information and the whereabouts of the child.
- You may remain anonymous.
How will your family support National Child Abuse Prevention Month?