National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families. During the month of April and throughout the year, communities are encouraged to share child abuse and neglect prevention awareness strategies and activities and promote prevention across the country. In recognition of the 40th anniversary of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, we have designed a historical timeline of significant moments in child abuse prevention in the United States
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)
The first Federal child protection legislation, CAPTA was signed by President Nixon on January 31, 1974 and marked the beginning of a new national response to the problem of child abuse and neglect. The legislation provided Federal assistance to States for prevention, identification, and treatment programs. It also created the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (now known as the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect) within the Children's Bureau to serve as a Federal focal point for CAPTA activities. Today CAPTA, most recently reauthorized in 2010, continues to provide minimum standards for child maltreatment definitions and support States' prevention and intervention efforts.
First National Child Abuse Prevention Week
In 1982, Congress resolved that June 6-12 should be designated as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week.
April proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month
In 1982, Congress resolved that June 6–12 should be designated as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week; the following year, President Reagan proclaimed April to be the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a tradition that continues to this day. The Bureau's National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect coordinated activities at the Federal level, including creation and dissemination of information and promotional materials. In 1984 for example, posters, bumper stickers, and buttons displayed the theme, "Kids—You can't beat 'em." Print, radio, and television PSAs, meanwhile, urged viewers to "Take time out. Don't take it out on your kid."
Child Abuse Prevention Federal Challenge Grants Act
The Children's Bureau was an early supporter of State Children's Trust Funds. Kansas was the first State to pass such legislation in the spring of, requiring revenues from surcharges placed on marriage licenses to be used to support child abuse prevention. By 1984, the number of States with Trust Funds was up to 15. That year, Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention Federal Challenge Grants Act (title IV of P.L. 98–473) to encourage more States to follow suit. By 1989, all but three States had passed Children's Trust Fund legislation.
Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse
The blue ribbon campaign is a memorial to children who have been affected by abuse and neglect.
"We Can Make a Difference: Strategies for Combating Child Maltreatment" Conference
In the summer of, Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan, MD, created an unprecedented national initiative to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect and promote coordination of prevention and treatment activities. A December 1991 meeting, "We Can Make a Difference: Strategies for Combating Child Maltreatment," encouraged participants to develop action plans that could be implemented locally. Public service announcements asking the public to "Show You Care" were released during Child Abuse Prevention Month (April) 1992.
The Children's Bureau named the lead agency for the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grants
In keeping with the Clinton Administration's emphasis on collaboration and integration among childand family-serving systems, a new grants program, Community-Based Family Resource and Support (CBFRS), was created in 1996. These grants reflected the belief that public and private child abuse prevention and treatment programs must work together toward common goals. The CBFRS program (now known as Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention or CBCAP) requires State lead agencies to establish statewide networks for family support programs, support a coordinated continuum of preventive services, and maximize funding for those services.
The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect and Federal Interagency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect are established
The reauthorization of CAPTA abolished the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect and created an Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) within the Children's Bureau to coordinate the functions required under CAPTA. At the same time, a Federal Interagency Work Group on Child Abuse and Neglect (FEDIAWG) was established to replace the Inter-Agency Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect that had been active since 1988. Today, FEDIAWG includes representatives of more than 40 Federal agencies and meets quarterly with OCAN's leadership and coordination.
13th National Conference, "Faces of Change: Embracing Diverse Cultures and Alternative Approaches"
The 13th National Conference recognized the fact that our diversity enables us to bring a multitude of approaches to bear on key issues in the field of child abuse and neglect.
Child Abuse Prevention Initiative and the 14th National Conference, "Gateways to Prevention"
The 14th National Conference recognized that prevention remains the best defense for our children. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first Presidential Proclamation for Child Abuse Prevention Month, OCAN launched the National Child Abuse Prevention Initiative as a yearlong effort. OCAN and its National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information partnered with Prevent Child Abuse America and the child abuse prevention community to produce a variety of tools and resources to support national, State, and local public awareness activities. The same year, OCAN released its Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect report, the product of a 2-year effort to generate new information about effective and innovative prevention programs.
Year of the Healthy Child
There was renewed commitment to make child abuse prevention a national priority. As a result, OCAN focused on making safe children and healthy families a shared responsibility, a theme that was also incorporated into theth National Conference.
OCAN developed the Resource Guide held the 16th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, "Protecting Children, Promoting Healthy Families, and Preserving Communities"
This encouraged communities to join the effort to promote healthy families and work collaboratively to provide responsive child abuse prevention and family support services. At the same time, OCAN invitednational organizations to be national child abuse prevention partners so the message could reach a wider audience.
Three grantees funded for nurse home visitation services
The Children's Bureau funded three grantees to evaluate and implement nurse home visitation services.
CB launched cooperative agreements to increase knowledge about evidence-based home visiting programs
The Children's Bureau launched cooperative agreements to generate knowledge about the use of evidence-based home visiting programs to prevent child abuse and neglect, including obstacles and opportunities for their wider implementation.
17th National Conference, "Focusing on the Future: Strengthening Families and Communities"
The 17th National Conference theme, "Focusing on the Future: Strengthening Families and Communities" reflected the resolve to continue to protect children by addressing the root causes of child maltreatment.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010
This act included a provision to create the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.
Network for Action prevention initiative kicks off
Network for Action kicked off with a meeting in Alexandria, VA, in June. Jointly sponsored by OCAN, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FRIENDS National Resource Center, and other national prevention organizations, the Network for Action is driven by three specific goals: to create a shared vision for the future of child abuse prevention, engage in shared action, and develop and strengthen prevention networks at the State and Federal levels. A second national meeting was held in April 2012.
18th National Conference, "Celebrating the Past - Imagining the Future"
The 18th National Conference was held in conjunction with the Children's Bureau's centennial celebration year and highlighted our desire to embrace our past successes, to learn from our challenges, and to realize our dream of eliminating child abuse and neglect.
19th National Conference, "Making Meaningful Connections"
The 19th National Conference marks the 40th anniversary of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA, P.L. 93-247).
Acknowledgment: This historical timeline of National Child Abuse Prevention Month was developed with input from Paltech, Inc.