Clayton Early Learning

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

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


Jennifer Smith

About Jennifer Smith

Jennifer has over 10 years of experience working in the early childhood field. Her experiences vary from research and intervention to direct classroom and home-based services for families and children birth to five. Prior to joining Clayton Early Learning, she worked as a Developmental Therapist for the Illinois Early Intervention system. Jennifer joined Clayton Educare in 2008 as an Early Head Start Lead Child Family Educator/Teacher in the Combination program option. Currently, she works as an Early Intervention Specialist partnering with staff, families and collaborative agencies to provide mental health and disability services. Jennifer also has over 12 years of sign language skills and is a Certified Baby Signs instructor. Jennifer holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Iowa and a Master’s of Science degree in Child Development with a Specialization in Infant Studies from Erikson Institute.
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