April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

 Gov. Blunt, Health Department Promote Statewide Effort to Reduce Child Abuse and Neglect

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Jefferson City-Gov. Matt Blunt and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and other state agencies and organizations across the state are promoting the safety and well-being of children in Missouri during April, which Gov. Blunt has proclaimed Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“We are focused on improving the safety and security of Missouri’s children,” Gov. Blunt said. “It is important that we continue to focus our efforts on improving safety while working to raise awareness of how all Missourians can help prevent abuse.”

“Tragically, thousands of children are abused or neglected every year in Missouri,” said Jane Drummond, director of the state health department. “The best way to protect children is to prevent abuse from ever happening in the first place.”

“Strong Families, Safe Kids” is this year’s theme for Child Abuse Prevention Month. The health department’s Injury and Violence Prevention Program has collaborated with Missouri KidsFirst and the Children’s Trust Fund to develop a web-based child abuse prevention packet that individuals and communities can modify and use to support local child abuse prevention efforts.

The packets offer a variety of information including parenting tips and ideas on how to bring communities together to prevent the abuse and neglect of Missouri’s children. The web-based community toolkit can be found at www.missourikidsfirst.org (click on the Child Abuse Prevention Month button).

“This year’s theme, Strong Families-Safe Kids, recognizes that the most important thing we can do to prevent child abuse is to support families,” Drummond said. “Strong families are better able to handle with the day-to-day challenges of raising children and create a healthy, nurturing home environment.”

Child Abuse Prevention Month and its Blue Ribbon Campaign began in 1989 as a Virginia grandmother’s tribute to her grandson who died as a result of abuse. She tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her car as a way to remember him and to alert her community to the tragedy of child abuse. Since that time, the blue ribbon has become a nationwide symbol for the fight against child abuse and neglect.

One particular form of child abuse is especially dangerous, even fatal, to infants and toddlers.

Abusive head trauma, more commonly known as Shaken Baby Syndrome, is the second most common cause of death due to trauma in children and the cause of more than 95 percent of serious head injuries in children less than one year of age.

According to the Missouri Child Fatality Review Program, 12 children in Missouri died as a result of Shaken Baby Syndrome in 2006. The condition is usually caused by the violent shaking or shaking and impacting of the head of an infant or young child, usually under the age of 4. Symptoms of the condition range from minor, such as irritability, lethargy, tremors and vomiting, to major, including seizures, coma, stupor and death.

Missouri state law requires every hospital and any health care facility licensed in the state that provides obstetrical services to offer to every new mother an opportunity to view a video about the dangers of shaking a baby and Shaken Baby Syndrome before the mother is discharged from the facility. The father of the baby and others invited by the mother can watch the video with her.

The Children’s Trust Fund has developed a variety of materials about Shaken Baby Syndrome, as well as other child abuse prevention topics including the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles. Brochures, pamphlets, posters and other parenting materials are available at