The group of about 25 kids and adults giggled their way from the skate park to the Boys & Girls Club, where they celebrated with an ice cream social. The event commemorated April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which Congress decreed in 1982.
“The best thing to come out of the walk is more awareness, fellowship and education,” said Arthur Malone, Big Cypress case manager. “A lot of families don’t know about child abuse. Education is key.”
The Family Services Department sponsors the event to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect within the Tribe. The department works year-round and offers weekly parenting classes, 24/7 intervention services and information for parents, grandparents and families.
Once a case is reported, Family Services works as a liaison between agencies and Tribal members. Those agencies include the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), Family Preservation Services of Florida in Fort Myers and ChildNet in Broward County.
“We are the front line,” Malone said. “If you feel like you want to lash out at the child, we recommend you just walk away. That will keep DCF out of your life.”
National Child Abuse Prevention Month acknowledges the importance of families and communities working together to prevent abuse and neglect and promotes the social and emotional well-being of children and families. Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act in 1974, which provided federal assistance to states for prevention, identification and treatment programs, and created the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (now known as the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect).
This year marked the 40th anniversary of the act.