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Tribe hosts events for Child Abuse Awareness Month

Center for Behavioral Health staff participate in a child abuse awareness community walk in 2018. (File photo)

The Seminole Tribe has prepared for a number of events across the reservations to mark Child Abuse Awareness Month in April. The Advocacy & Guardianship Department has also released a list of tips for the tribal community to help prevent child abuse.

The following is a list of tribalwide events hosted by the Advocacy program. The events are intended for the entire community, and some are designed to appeal especially to tribal youth and preschoolers.

  • April 10: To “kick-off” to child abuse prevention blue ribbon week, participants are encouraged to wear their favorite shoes, or “kicks.”
  • April 11: To “team up” against child abuse, participants are encouraged to wear their favorite sports team jersey or shirt.
  • April 12: Participants are encouraged to “be a hero” against child abuse by wearing their favorite superhero apparel.
  • April 13: Participants can “put a cap” on child abuse, by wearing your favorite, crazy hat.

The week culminates April 14 with the 8th annual “Child Abuse Awareness Community Walk & Ice Cream Social” in Hollywood, Big Cypress, Brighton, Immokalee and Lakeland. Participants are encouraged to wear their favorite shade of blue. The walks begin at 3 p.m. at various locations on the reservations.

For the April 12 “be a hero” day, the Advocacy program is scheduled to visit the tribe’s preschools while wearing superhero outfits. They will read books and sing songs with the children. In addition, the Advocacy program is scheduled to visit the children housed in the youth home on the Big Cypress Reservation on April 22.

The following are the tips the Advocacy program released for the tribal community.

  • Be a good neighbor: If you see a young child unsupervised outside, stop and help. Do your part to ensure the child is safe and with an appropriate caregiver.
  • Be a support to others: Being a parent isn’t easy. Offer to babysit so parents can run errands, take a time out or simply spend time together.
  • Be an active community member.
  • Help out and be a positive parental support to others.
  • Mentor a new parent, provide guidance and encouragement.
  • Promote respect and listen to others who may be in need.
  • Start a parent support group: Sometimes it helps to have someone to talk to who has been where you are. Know you’re not alone. Build a supportive network for you and your family.
  • Learn the signs of child abuse and neglect: Withdrawal from friends or usual activities; changes in behaviors (aggression, anger, hyperactivity); changes in school performance; depression, anxiety or unusual fears and sudden loss of self-confidence; sleep problems and nightmares; an apparent lack of supervision and risky behaviors; rebellious or defiant behaviors; and self-harm or attempted suicide.

For more information about any of the tribalwide activities, contact the Advocacy program at (954) 965-1338. The Florida child abuse hotline is (800) 962-2873.