April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), along with its community partners, are working to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring great childhoods for all Oklahoma children. Organizations across the state are working together to host events that demonstrate their commitment to preventing child abuse.

Thousands of Oklahoma children suffer abuse and neglect each year. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Human Services, there were 15,289 substantiated child abuse and neglect victims in Oklahoma (highest in the last ten years), and Oklahoma County alone had 2,610 confirmed cases.

Sherie Trice is the community child abuse prevention grant coordinator with the OSDH. She said the statistics are a reminder that every possible effort should be made in preventing child abuse in Oklahoma.

“We encourage every citizen to ‘do one thing’ when it comes to protecting children and strengthening families,” said Trice. “Even small gestures like being kind and supportive to parents challenged in public and/or assisting parents by offering help such as reading a book to a child in the waiting room or providing an extra set of hands at the supermarket and also offering respite before families experience crisis. These efforts are instrumental in helping families reduce stress and just make life a little easier.”

There are numerous events and activities across the state to support National Child Abuse Prevention Month:

Build a Blue Ribbon Tree for Kids Campaign: Trees in communities across the state are decorated with blue ribbons to bring awareness to child abuse prevention.

Happiest Day Coloring Challenge: Children are encouraged to simply draw or color their “happiest day”. Children may work individually or in a group with family or as a class. Parents and teachers are encouraged to share these pictures on social media using #PictureaBrighterFuture or #OKdo1thing. For more information, visit this link: https://go.usa.gov/xQgw6

Wear Blue Selfie Day: Friday, April 6 is designated as the day to wear blue to help promote and strengthen child abuse prevention efforts in communities. Share your best selfie with others and ask co-workers to join. Post the picture on social media using #PictureaBrighterFuture or #OKdo1thing.

Child Abuse Prevention Awards of Excellence Ceremony: Honoring excellence in prevention, Tuesday, April 10, at 11 a.m. in the State Capitol Governor’s Blue Room.

25th Oklahoma Child Abuse and Neglect Conference: The OSDH Family and Prevention Services are co-sponsoring a prevention track. Visit this link for more information: http://ow.ly/VOZy30jjxyD

Help spread the word about parentPRO. Free parenting support delivered to the family’s door by connecting them to a family support program staffed by specially trained professionals who teach parenting skills and child development, as well as ways to reduce stress and nurture children. They are also beneficial in providing community resources that fit the family’s need.  http://www.parentpro.org/

Get involved with Prevent Child Abuse Oklahoma by calling Parent Promise at (405) 232-2500.

Volunteer to serve on the statewide CAP ACTION Committee and to help with future activities by emailing sheriet@health.ok.gov.

For additional information about child abuse prevention or how to get involved with other activities in your community, contact your local county health department or Sherie Trice at (405) 271-7611.