April is Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, and organizations from around the globe are participating in an awareness campaign to shine a light on the issues of child abuse and neglect.
Child maltreatment is more common than people think. On the Big Island specifically, incidents of child abuse have been historically high. Agencies such as Neighborhood Place of Puna cite factors including poverty and stress as possible contributors to families at risk of child abuse and neglect
“We all know that children thrive in a nurturing, safe and stable home. Creating such a home requires that there be sufficient healthy food for the children, access to timely and appropriate medical care, stable housing and loving adults to nurture children through developmentally appropriate parenting.” says Paul Normann, executive director of Neighborhood Place of Puna, a family-focused agency.
In addition to working as executive director of Neighborhood Place of Puna, Normann also chairs the East Hawaii Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect.
Other participating agencies include Child and Family Services, the YWCA and E Hiki Mai Ana (NEXT) LLC, Catholic Charities, the County of Hawaii, United Healthcare, HMSA, the Children’s Justice Center, the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center, state Department of Health, state Department of Education and the YMCA.
“It is important that we, as a community, reduce the number of children who are victims of child abuse and neglect,” Normann says. “Data shows that childhood traumas (abuse/neglect) have lifelong impacts on the victims, leading to increased risks for chronic illness, premature death, mental health issues, substance abuse, etc. The members of the EHCAN work together to support families and children, advocate for additional resources to help families and raise awareness about child maltreatment.”
Use the hashtag “#HawaiiCAN” with a selfie of you and your family and share why your ohana stands behind ending child abuse and neglect in Hawaii.