Monday, April 3, 2017

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month - Make early childhood health a priority

More than 700,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect in the U.S. in 2014, the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control. In the same year, more than 1,500 children died due to abuse and neglect.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and a time to acknowledge the important things communities and families can do to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Public health agencies, like JCPH, work to stop child maltreatment, including abuse and neglect, before it occurs. In doing this, national, state and local public health programs promote the development of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments between children and their parents or caregivers. Children's experiences are defined through their environments (such as homes, schools, and neighborhoods) and relationships with parents, teachers, and other caregivers. Healthy relationships act as a buffer against adverse childhood experiences and are necessary to ensure the long-term physical and emotional well-being of children. 

The first years of a child's life are some of the most important in terms of cognitive, social and physical development. Early experiences occurring when a child's brain and behavior are being shaped affect a child's ability to learn, to get along with others, and to develop an overall state of well-being. Unfortunately, not all children have the same positive experiences or opportunities, which can lead to disparities. Social, economic and environmental factors have been closely linked to health disparities.  

Research suggests that many disparities in overall health and well-being are rooted in early childhood. For example, those who lived in poverty as young children are more at-risk for leading causes of illness and death, and are more likely to experience poor quality of life. This growing problem costs the United States billions of dollars annually.

That’s why Jefferson County Public Health is hosting three screenings of “The Raising of America,” a documentary on early childhood health and the things community members can do to help the youngest among us. The first two screening took place the first weekend of April, and the third will be from 5-7 p.m. April 17 at the Golden Library. RSVP at
The documentary film series 
“The Raising of America” chronicles how a strong, healthy and supportive start for all children leads to better individual outcomes and to healthier, safer and more prosperous and equitable communities. 

 “‘The Raising of America’ changes the way we look at early child health and development,” said Sophia Yager, Jefferson County Public Health nurse program manager and lead for the Health in Early Childhood Collaborative. “Jefferson County can only benefit from considering how to best support its youngest residents and their families. Through these viewings, we hope to start those conversations.”

To learn more about “The Raising of America” and watch a trailer for the documentary, go to

Jefferson County Public Health’s home visitation programs such as Prenatal Plus, Nurse Family Partnership and the Family Collaboration Programs as well as its HEAL in Early Childhood and Clinic Services provide the support necessary to keep children and their families healthy.  The Community Health Services Division implements evidence-based prevention strategies to reduce health disparities and promote health equity to positively impact later health, well-being, education and productivity and self-sufficiency.

WATCH THIS VIDEO to learn more!

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