September is a significant month when it comes to caring for and protecting children. In addition to celebrating Infant Mortality Awareness Month in September, it’s also recognized as International Child Protection Month – something everyone should be able to get behind.
These are goals we strive for daily through programs such as HANDS, which helps new parents give their babies the best start possible, Family & School Services and the PAL Coalition, which work with at-risk students to help them make healthy choices. Additionally, our child advocacy centers provide compassionate care and healing to sexually abused children, and Child & Family Services works with children and families hurt by abuse, violence or neglect.
International Child Protection Month was created in 2014 to support, inspire and honor adult leadership who work to keep children safe, and to empower children and teens to take charge of their own well-being. The initial effort reached more than 300,000 adults, and in 2015, the effort was renamed The International Child Protection Advocacy Movement, with September designated as the recognition month. The goal this year is to reach 1 million educators, parents and other caring adults.
Child protection is defined as “promoting the safety and well-being of children and teens — through adult awareness, advocacy, and intervention on their behalf and through preparing young people to take charge of their own lives as they play, learn, love, and grow.”
According to the movement, child protection requires adults to:
- Prevent and stop child maltreatment, including bullying, molestation, exploitation, abduction, assault, neglect, and other harm.
- Advocate for positive child development policies, practices, and education with families, schools, youth-serving organizations, and professional groups.
- Provide kids and their adults with knowledge, skills, and experiences so they learn how to stay safe, act wisely, and believe in their own power and importance.
But it isn’t just about building awareness, it’s also about taking action – to do something real, tangible to protect children. That might include donating to or volunteering with a child-serving agency such as Family & Children’s Place, or advocating before an official body – city council or commission or legislative body – or writing a letter to the editor supporting protections for children.
There is a host of ways to get involved, to make your voice heard in the effort to protect children.
Just imagine the impact if all young people believed that they could count on their adults to help! And imagine the impact if every adult said to the children in their life, “You are very important to me. If you have a safety problem, I want to know — even if I seem too busy, even if someone we care about will be upset, even if it’s embarrassing, and even if you’ve made a mistake. Please tell me and I will do everything in my power to help you.”
Children are our most precious resource and we all have a responsibility to help protect them – all of them.