April is Child Abuse Prevention Month - Blue Ribbon Month
by Harmony Plenty
Every April, the Napa County Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC) commemorates Child Abuse Prevention Month by bringing awareness to this important issue and raising funds to support families and keep children safe. Led by Cope Family Center and comprised of representatives from nonprofit organizations, the faith-based community, and law enforcement and government agencies, CAPC coordinates Napa County’s efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect.
Each year, CAPC reports on the state of the health and wellbeing of Napa County’s children and families. In 2020, there were 162 confirmed cases of abuse or neglect, but since child maltreatment is greatly under reported, the true number of victims is estimated to be closer to 500.
“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to contain it are taking a serious toll on families,” said Michele Grupe, CAPC Co-Chair and Cope Executive Director. “Parents who are trying to get by must make hard decisions like choosing between prescriptions and food. They struggle to find safe and reliable childcare. They have become part-time teachers, often facing language, technology or educational barriers to helping their children.” The extreme stress that parents are facing puts their children at greater risk of maltreatment, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and exposure to family violence.
Children are further vulnerable to abuse and neglect during the pandemic because they are largely hidden from view. Shelter-at-home orders and school closures have left far too many at-risk children isolated at home, without the watchful gaze of teachers, coaches and friends. “In a virtual school setting with limited contact with students, for example, teachers have a harder time noticing bruises, changes in behavior, consistent hunger or other signs of abuse or neglect that would normally be reported,” said Grupe.
The good news is that we can all help keep children safe. “Kids need strong families to grow and thrive safely, and families need supportive communities to lean on when tough times come,” said Julie Murphy, Program Director at Cope. “We can all play a role in building a strong and resilient community for Napa Valley’s children and families.”
Blue Ribbon Month is an opportunity to learn more about child abuse in our community, raise awareness about how it can be prevented, and find out how we can each take small actions that make a big difference. “With the pandemic still limiting in-person activities, we’ve created opportunities that will allow the community to get involved while staying safe,” said Grupe.
New this year is a virtual walkathon that encourages the community to walk 40 miles in April in honor of the estimated 40 monthly victims of child abuse in 2020 while also raising funds for Cope’s prevention programs. People can sign up as individuals or as a team and set their own fundraising goal.
Another way to spread the word is to participate in the Blue Ribbon Scavenger Hunt and Instagram contest. Visit the scavenger hunt locations, snap a selfie and post it on Instagram to raise awareness and be entered to win weekly prizes.
Local businesses are helping “Paint the Town Blue” to bring awareness and raise funds. There are dine-and-donates (or shop/sip/caffeinate -and-donates) throughout the month when businesses will donate a portion of proceeds to support Cope’s programs.
To learn more about Cope’s family support and child abuse prevention programs, visit copefamilycenter.org. All services are free and are offered in English and Spanish.
Paint the Town Blue: Support local businesses raising awareness and funds. Scavenger Hunt and Instagram
Contest: Spread the word about child abuse prevention and enter to win weekly prizes.
Walk With Me virtual walkathon: Walk (or run, hike or bike) 40 miles and collect donations for prevention programs.
Tree of Life Community Art Project: Create public art to inspire hope and healing.
Learn and Advocate: Get informed and take action to keep kids safe.
Donate: Support Cope’s family support and child abuse prevention programs.
You can help keep children safe: There are many ways to participate in Blue Ribbon Month and show your support for child abuse prevention.
For more information visit copefamilycenter.org/blueribbon