‘We Must Do Our Part To Prevent Child Abuse’

FDOE staff members plant pinwheels as part of the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign.

FDOE staff members plant pinwheels as part of the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign.

April is recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time for the community to come together to show its support for children and families. We all share the goal of student achievement leading to a satisfying and productive adulthood. A critical component of student achievement is reducing and removing a variety of barriers that exist for some students. Child abuse is an intolerable, but preventable barrier to learning.

Gov. Scott Rick Scott proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Florida and urged all Floridians to engage in activities whose purpose is the strengthen families and for communities to provide the optimal environment for healthy child development.

It is important for our communities, schools, agencies and stakeholders take the time to collectively reflect on the importance of child abuse prevention.

At the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), we planted our very own “pinwheel garden,” in collaboration with the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign. The garden symbolizes the vital part each of us plays in promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families in communities and schools.

We planted nearly 400 blue and silver pinwheels, and were joined by representatives from the Executive Office of the Governor, the Florida Department of Children and Families, and The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida.

Pinwheels for Prevention is a national campaign that engages communities in a coordinated effort to prevent child abuse and neglect by promoting the awareness of healthy child development, positive parenting practices and the types of support families need within their communities.

Efforts to prevent child abuse are more successful when community members have a clear understanding of the laws that guide child protection. As awareness of child abuse prevention increases and stronger community support systems for prevention are created, the number of abused and neglected children can decrease.

As advocates for children, we are committed to doing our part to raise awareness and share the responsibility for keeping children safe and healthy. Promote safe, nurturing environments and develop resiliency (the ability to grow and thrive in the face of adversity).

Ways to Help

  • Know the typical signs of all types of abuse (including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect) and high levels of stress for caretakers that may put them at risk for engaging in abusive behaviors.
  • Report suspected child abuse to the Child Abuse Hotline ( 1-800-962-2873 or online at https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us/) In Florida, everyone is required by law to report suspected child abuse.
  • Provide trauma-informed support for children exhibiting emotional and behavioral reactions associated with trauma.
Douglas Sessions, Jr. President/CEO of the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, Inc.; Traci Leavine, Director of Child Welfare Practice, Florida Department of Children & Families; Anita Odom, Director of Prevention Services, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Florida, The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida; Education Commissioner Pam Stewart; Zackary Gibson, Chief Child Advocate and Director, Office of Adoption and Child Protection, Executive Office of the Governor.

Douglas Sessions, Jr. President/CEO of the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, Inc.;
Traci Leavine, Director of Child Welfare Practice, Florida Department of Children & Families;
Anita Odom, Director of Prevention Services, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Florida, The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida;
Education Commissioner Pam Stewart;
Zackary Gibson, Chief Child Advocate and Director, Office of Adoption and Child Protection, Executive Office of the Governor.

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