By Christine Murray, HRI Director

Did you know that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month? Every April, professionals and communities come together to raise awareness about the devastating effects of child abuse on children, families, and communities. Our Healthy Relationships Initiative (HRI) team believes that all people–including all children–have a need for happy, healthy, and safe relationships of all kinds. The most basic foundation of healthy relationships–safety–is shattered when children face any form of maltreatment, including abuse and neglect.

Throughout April, HRI is partnering with several other organizations to shed light on the need for our community to come together to prevent future child abuse, as well as ensure that children who have faced abuse have access to the supportive resources they need. In particular, we encourage you to attend the Pinwheels in the Park event on April 22nd at LeBauer Park, which is sponsored by the Kellin Foundation and Greensboro Child Response Initiative.

In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month this month at HRI, we’ll focus on how healthy relationships support healthy children. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, preventing child abuse requires a two-prong approach: reducing risk factors and building protective factors. The Department of Health and Human Services defines protective factors as follows:

“Protective factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that reduce or eliminate risk and promote healthy development and well-being of children and families. These factors help ensure that children and youth function well at home, in school, at work, and in the community, today and into adulthood. Protective factors also can serve as buffers, helping parents who might otherwise be at risk of abusing their children to find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress.” (page 3)

Since our focus at HRI is on building and maintaining healthy relationships, our goal for this series is to highlight the protective factors that past research suggests help reduce the risk of child abuse. In particular, our goal is to highlight how adults in Guilford County can foster these protective factors for the children in their lives, whether as parents, teachers, coaches, faith leaders, neighbors, friends, and community leaders.

Based on research summarized by the Department of Health and Human Services, we’re focusing on 7 key protective factors. We’ll highlight each of the following in a separate post this month. To help protect children in Guilford County from the factors that contribute to child maltreatment, adults can do the following:

  • Support Children’s Emotional Development
  • Nurture Strong Parenting Skills
  • Foster Strong, Secure Attachments Between Parents and Children
  • Take Good Care Of Themselves
  • Build A Parenting Village
  • Connect to Resources and Support
  • Build a Thriving Community to Make Guilford County a Nurturing Community for All Children

Throughout this series, we’ll highlight ways that adults in Guilford County can act within families, in organizations that serve children, and at the community level to strengthen each protective factor for the children in their lives and in the community.

 All children deserve to be surrounded by loving, safe relationships. As adults, we are responsible for creating the type of home and community environment that nurtures those relationships for them. So, let’s take time this month (and beyond) to consider ways that we can all foster protective factors in our community that will help children have lives that are happy, healthy, and free from any form of abuse.

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