April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and thousands of blue ribbon flags will be planted at the State Capitol on Saturday, March 30 and will remain on display there next week to support efforts to protect children from harm and raise awareness of how we all can play a positive role in keeping children safe.
On Saturday, March 30, from 8-9:30 a.m., Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA), the state leader in child protection, will coordinate public officials and volunteers alike in planting 4,693 blue ribbon flags along the State Street Corridor and the front of the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Each flag represents one child harmed by abuse in Pennsylvania in one year. The volunteers also will plant 40 black flags to honor each child killed by abuse in Pennsylvania and will affix blue ribbons to light poles along the State Street Corridor in downtown Harrisburg.
This Wednesday, April 3, PFSA will celebrate five Pennsylvanians who will be honored as PA Blue Ribbon Champions for Safe Kids in recognition of their efforts to prevent child abuse. The ceremony, which is open to the public, will begin at 11 a.m. It is also #WearBlueDay for child abuse prevention and downtown Harrisburg will be lit with blue lights that evening.
PFSA prevents child abuse and protects children from harm by helping parents learn positive parenting techniques, educating professionals and volunteers who work with children to recognize and report child abuse, and helping community members learn how they can play an important role.
Here are 10 tips from PFSA on how we in the community can help:
Take the first step. If you don’t know the names of the families who live around you, be bold and introduce yourself. Then write down their names to help you remember.
Welcome newcomers. Whenever someone moves into your neighborhood, take the time to welcome them and get to know something about their family, their interests, and their pets. You’ll likely discover shared interests that could be the foundation for a good relationship.
Ask for a little help from time to time. Invite neighborhood children to give you a hand with an outdoor project and thank them for being a good neighbor. Sometimes asking young people to help reminds them that they are an important part of the neighborhood. In addition, it increases the chances that a neighborhood family will ask you for help sometime when they need it.
Offer support when it’s appropriate. If you discover that a family is struggling or dealing with difficult challenges, find thoughtful ways to offer support and care. For example, if they are taking care of an aging parent, they might appreciate some help with mowing the lawn or raking leaves.
Keep an eye out for neighborhood children. Let parents know when their kids do something positive or fun. “I heard your son playing drums yesterday. He’s really getting good.” If you have concerns or questions, raise them with care – not in an accusatory way, but as a supporter. Knowing that neighbors are keeping an eye out for your family is an important community support for families.
If you’re a parent and your child spends time with a neighbor, get to know the neighbor yourself. Thank them for being hospitable and supportive. You may also find that it’s fun to barbecue, or to take walks together as a way of cementing positive, mutual relationships.
Invite families to participate with you. If you learn that a family is not well-connected to the opportunities in the community, invite them (without badgering them) to come with you to places that are important to you. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to go into a new place where you don’t know anyone; you could make it easier.
Consider sponsoring the Front Porch Project in your community. FPP is a community-based primary prevention initiative based on the belief that everyone can – and should – become more aware of how to help protect children and support families in their own community. It provides ordinary citizens with the knowledge, training and encouragement they need to become involved in preventing abuse and neglect before it occurs. Find out more about PFSA’s community-based prevention program.
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