Clayton Early Learning

Did you know that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month?

Jennifer Smith

Posted by Jennifer Smith


Jennifer Smith

Every April, Clayton Early Learning participates in the national Child Abuse Prevention Month campaign. For more than 30 years, April has been recognized as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect. This month is also a time dedicated to encouraging individuals and communities to support children and families while preventing abuse from happening.  Therefore; Clayton will have a month long calendar of events that we invite our families and the community to participate in with us.  Keep your eyes out for pinwheels, ribbons and classes!  Updates will be featured on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Child abuse is a topic many find challenging to discuss or even think about, but it's absolutely necessary to raise awareness about this sensitive topic; especially with the alarming statistics reported annually in this country. According to the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 3.1 million reports of child abuse were filed in 2013 over 679,000 of them being substantiated cases of abuse and neglect with over 1,500 of them ending in fatalities.  As I prepared to write this, I was shocked and saddened to read an article that included actual photos of children from each state who have recently lost their lives as a result of being abused.  I have to say that I debated including the child abuse fatality statistic into this post; but after seeing all of those children's faces, I felt compelled to share the horrifying statistics of child abuse in our country, if only to illustrate the vital need for awareness of the topic and to elicit as much support as possible for Child Abuse Prevention. Remember, child abuse is 100% preventable!

 pinwheels  With all of these statistics, many of which are overwhelming, you may be wondering what YOU can do to create change and promote safety for our children. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help.


  • Know what child abuse is. Physical and sexual abuse clearly constitute maltreatment, but so does neglect, or the failure of parents or other caregivers to provide a child with needed food, clothing, and care.
  • Report abuse. If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse, or if a child tells you about abuse, make a report to your state's child protective services department or local police.
  • Educate yourself and others. Simple support for children and parents can be the best way to prevent child abuse.
  • Discipline your children thoughtfully. Never discipline your child when you are upset. Give yourself time to calm down.
  • Examine your behavior. Abuse is not just physical. Both words and actions can inflict deep, lasting wounds.
  • Be a nurturing parent. Use your actions to show children and other adults that conflicts can be settled without hitting or yelling.
  • After-school activities, parent education classes, mentoring programs, and respite care are some of the many ways to keep children safe from harm. Be a voice in support of these efforts in your community.
  • Teach children their rights. When children are taught they are special and have the right to be safe, they are less likely to think abuse is their fault, and more likely to report an offender.
  • Support prevention programs. Too often, intervention occurs only after abuse is reported.
  • Listen Carefully. When talking to a child about abuse, listen listen listen… assure the child that he or she did the right thing by telling an adult, and affirm that he or she is not responsible for what happened.
  • Invest in Kids. Encourage leaders in the community to be supportive of children and families. Ask employers to provide family-friendly work environments

For more information about child abuse awareness and prevention, visit


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How Can We Prevent Child Abuse? We Can Start by Just Talking About It

Jennifer Smith

Posted by Jennifer Smith


Jennifer Smith

Child abuse. These two words, when placed or spoken together, have such a heart sinking effect. Perhaps the strong response this term solicits has to do with the fact that many people have somehow been impacted by child abuse, either personally or through someone they care about. Statistically, a child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds or 1,825 children a day have confirmed abuse or neglect cases (United States Health and Human Services, 2013). I don’t share these statistics to upset you, or make you angry. I share these statistics because it is a reality… and it is OUR job as adults to make sure this topic isn’t hidden simply because it makes us uncomfortable.

I once heard this question posed to me: If you are driving through town and you see a burning building, what would you do? Then a block later, you see a parent hitting their child. What would you do? Sit with that question for a moment. Why is it so easy for us to call for help when we see a fire or accident in passing, but we hesitate to intervene when we see that a child is being hurt? So, what would you do?

April is National Child Abuse Prevention month. This campaign has been going on for over 20 years, since President Reagan was the first to proclaim April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The concept behind dedicating a month to Child Abuse Awareness is to help make it a “talked about thing” as well as to educate and empower families and the communities they live in.

One of the things I have learned in my 15 plus years of working in early childhood is that prevention is KEY. Prevention is a matter of knowing what's going on, what gets to you and how it gets to you. Prevention entails taking the time and effort to think ahead about what is likely to happen (based on past experience) and to develop a strategy for how to deal with the challenge. Children can drive us crazy; there is no doubt about it. Sometimes it seems that kids know exactly how to push our buttons, like some little stealth ninjas sneaking into our subconscious. The questions below are to help parents and caregivers do a little “pre” thinking to help identify their “hot buttons” and plan how to respond positivity in times of stress.

• What's going on? Your child may be acting the way he/she does for a variety of reasons. It's important to have a good understanding of the relevant factors, especially such issues as developmental stage, temperament, and any existing vulnerabilities (including psychiatric, learning, and developmental disabilities). Stressors such as family conflict, financial stress, and peer group issues can play a significant role as well. The key is to find a way to take some of your child's behavior less personally. What seems to be a common situation that your child typically acts up?

• What gets to you? Is it defiance? Backtalk? An entitled attitude? A temper tantrum? Yelling? Screaming? The idea is to be aware of your vulnerabilities; to know what's likely to get you upset. These are your triggers; or if you prefer, your "buttons." What are yours?

• How does it get to you? When your child has behavior that triggers you, how does it trigger you? In other words, does it evoke only anger, or are there other vulnerable feelings that are getting tapped into? Among angers many functions, self-protection is one of the most basic. So if your child says or does something that gets you enraged, it's highly likely there is some other feeling or set of feelings in the background. The more we are aware of those feelings in the background, the more we can appropriately attend to them when we're not actively triggered. How do you typically respond when a hot button is pushed?

• Why does it get to you? This is closely tied to how, but often links to past experience. If you think back on a particular time you got very angry with your child, it probably resonates with some experience or set of experiences you had in your own life, possibly with a parent. Knowing this, however, doesn't necessarily equip you to change your reactions in the present. You still have other work to do. Take a moment to reflect on why these particular things “trigger” you.

It’s crucial to remember that child abuse impacts every culture and economic group. Even the most skilled, experienced parents or educators have moments when they just need to walk away….and that’s okay! Walking away from a stressful parenting situation can be our greatest tool in preventing child abuse.

To learn more about child abuse prevention in your community check out these resources:
Fussy Baby Warmline
The Fussy Baby team is available to talk by phone. Team members are available to listen, and to provide support and resources. Please call us at 1-877-627-9227
Parenting Support
Every parent needs some help some time. If you need to talk, get information, or find some resources to assist you with a problem, call the free family support line at 1-800-CHILDREN. It is staffed from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm every day.
Prevent Child Abuse Colorado
We educate, connect, and mobilize Colorado communities and families so our children can grow and develop free from abuse and neglect.
1-800- 4 A Child
24 hour support focusing on prevention, intervention and treatment. All calls are anonymous and offered in many different languages. 1-800- 4 a Child (1-800-422-4453)
Our Kids Your Kids
The mission of the Our Kids, Your Kids coalition is to support the healthy development of all of Colorado’s children, in an on-going effort to raise awareness for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect, and continuous improvement of Colorado's child protection system.
Child Abuse Prevention Association
“Our mission is to prevent and treat all forms of child abuse by creating changes in individuals, families and society that strengthen relationships and promote healing.”
Consejos para Familias Spanish-speaking parents may call the statewide, toll-free Spanish Family Support Line. Consejos para Familias - Para cuando el cuidado de nuestros hijos es dificil - 1-866-Las-Familias – (1-866-527-3264)
U.S Department of Health and Human Services 2013 “Child Maltreatment 2012” Tables 3-4 and 3-8. Available at Calculations by Children’s Defense Fund.

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Pinwheels for Prevention

Jennifer Smith

Posted by Jennifer Smith


Jennifer Smith

Child Well-being Month - Entry wall decor at Clayton Early LearningIf you were to walk to the Clayton Early Learning building today you would walk along a path of blue and silver pinwheels (given that the children haven't already "plucked" up all the enticing spinning sparkles)! Walk inside and you see a rather large Pinwheel on the wall. Why all the pinwheels you may wonder? Well, April was National Child Abuse Prevention month and the pinwheel is symbolic of the bright futures that ALL children deserve. To learn more about the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign visit their website: Child Abuse is a topic that hits the pit of your stomach. It’s tragic, horrifying, and unthinkable. But it's important that we do talk about its presence in our community, because ignoring the issue isn't going to make it go away. Pinwheels grace the pathway by Clayton Ediucare main entrance.Support for child abuse prevention efforts have expanded due in part to the growing body of evidence that suggests home visitation programs for families with young children can reduce the incidence of maltreatment and improve child and family outcomes. Additional research has shown the impact Six Protective Factors have on strengthening families and as a result reducing the likelihood of child abuse within those families. Programmatically we are working within home visitation programs and these ‘protective factors’ every day. Therefore, it is easy to see how Clayton Early Learning is poised at the front lines to be making giant impacts with this work. We don't need a specific "month" to work within these concepts (because it is what our program is fundamentally about) but it's a great opportunity to align with community efforts to help spread the word. So let me tell you a little bit more about what those ‘protective factors’ are.

6 Protective Factors

  • Jenny with small girl putting pinwheels in the lawn at Clayton Early Learning.Nurturing and Attachment - It is the basis of all development. Babies are born social creatures and need attachments to survive. This protective factor emphasizes the importance for caregivers to understand and meet their child’s need for love, affection and stimulation.
  • Social Connections - Much like the Nurturing and Attachment factor. The social connections protective factor addresses the importance of caregivers to build a network of emotionally supportive friends, family and neighbors.
  • Parental Resiliency - All families have inner strengths and skills. This protective factor focuses on the ability of families to tap into these resources, which can help serve as a foundation for building their internal resiliency.
  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development - Knowing what is the usual course of child development helps provide families with the ability to set realistic and consistent expectations for their children.
  • Social Emotional Competency of Children - The more children are able to identify, regulate and communicate their feelings, the more responsive families can be to meet their children’s needs, which leads to decreased stress and frustration.
  • Concrete Supports for Parents - This is the tangible supports we can offer to families such as parenting support groups, resources, and educational classes.

4-30_pinwheel-cTo learn more about these Protective Factors and how you can be active in strengthening families visit the websites of The Center for the Study of Social Policy and the Child Welfare Information Gateway [].

Please take a few extra minutes this month to educate yourself on ways Colorado is addressing Child Abuse.

Whatever your role, you can find ways to encourage providers and parents in building these protective factors within their families and communities.


History of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Retrieved from

Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being: A Network for Action 2013. Retrieved from

Supporting Evidence-Based Home Visiting to Prevent Child Maltreatment.  Retrieved from

Other ideas for setting a positive environment.