This week child welfare and child maltreatment prevention advocates from all sectors of society (social work, health, early childhood, education and law enforcement) will converge in Washington, D.C., for the 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect.
This important event is sponsored by the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect at the Children’s Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth and Families and with support from more than 40 national partners. It is the nation’s leading training event for policy makers, practitioners and researchers involved in promoting child safety and well-being.
This year’s theme, “Celebrating the Past — Imagining the Future,” commemorates the Children’s Bureau Centennial. The event will draw on the agency’s century of experience addressing children’s issues and in combating child maltreatment to chart a future course for partners.
The issues involved in protecting children and preventing child maltreatment are complex, and demand solutions that can only be achieved through collaboration, coordination, and shared responsibility.
Communities across this great nation work hard every day to keep children, our most defenseless citizens, safe from harm. All children need a solid network of adults—family, teachers, day care providers, neighbors, coaches, doctors and most important of all —parents and caregivers— to assure that they thrive during their formative years.
Because maltreatment can be so damaging to the healthy development of children and youth, it’s up to us to do all we can to support families and prevent abuse and neglect from happening. And we’ve made progress; it’s encouraging that the number of abused and neglected children has been steadily decreasing over the past several years.
Last December, HHS’ annual Child Maltreatment Report reported that an estimated 695,000 children were victims of maltreatment in 2010, down from 825,000 in 2006.
Although we are happy to see abuse and neglect on the decline, even one maltreated child is one too many. It is still imperative to invest in prevention efforts, to recognize the warning signs, and support families in coping with the challenges they face.
During this April’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we challenge you to consider what you as an individual can do to prevent child maltreatment in your community. Simple steps can make a huge difference.
Interested in participating in the Conference? Register as a “virtual participant." This option enables you to participate in a “live” Free Webinar Series that includes the five Conference plenary sessions and six interactive workshop sessions broadcast live from the Conference. View the session descriptions.