MUSCATINE, Iowa–Each year, the Community Partnership for Protecting Children marks Child Abuse Prevention Month with pinwheel gardens in front of the Muscatine County Court House, the Muscatine Police Department, and area schools through Blue Out Day, which encourages groups across the county to wear blue and post photos of themselves doing so to remind people of the very real issues of child abuse and neglect and the role everyone can play in preventing them. This April, to help families plan enjoyable time together while still social distancing, the CPPC has joined forces with the Prevent Violence Coalition and Muscatine County CARES to provide a variety of activities and prizes for them to take advantage of.
To kick off the month, the organizing groups held the 2021 Blue Out Day April 1. As in years past, both businesses and school classes submitted photos of themselves wearing blue to raise awareness about child abuse. Later in the month, two of the classes that submitted photos will receive pizza parties to celebrate their efforts to end child abuse and neglect.
For each full month of April, organizers have provided a different activity suggestion for families. After not having the opportunity to plan any events in 2020 and still wanting to keep families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, they devised a selection of activities everyone could do at home with materials they already had on hand. These include holding a game night the week of April 4, decorating and hanging pinwheel cutouts (which parents may print from the Muscatine County ISU Extension and Outreach website) in the window the week of April 11, going on a scavenger hunt the week of April 18, and participating in a virtual fun run with online registration the week of April 25.
As families take part in each of these activities, Muscatine County CPPC Director Dana Allen encourages them to take photos of themselves participating and to post them to Facebook with the hashtag #greatchildhoodsmuscatine! both for a chance to win fun prize baskets (valued at over $100 each) and to help organizers track community involvement. She hopes many families will try out at least one of the activities, as Allen describes each of them as, ” fun, easy to do, and it doesn’t cost anything to participate in any of them.”
Allen also hopes that thinking about Child Abuse Prevention Month will help bring attention to a problem that continues to persist in both Iowa and Muscatine County. In 2020, Muscatine County reported 620 child abuse claims to the Department of Human Services with 188 of them proving either confirmed or founded. 44% of these reports cited abuse or neglect to children aged five or younger.
“It is so unfortunate that we have to have a Child Abuse Prevention Month but, the truth is child abuse is in every community even ours,” stated Allen. “Too many children are unable to receive the care that they need on a daily basis, so if we can raise awareness, and more importantly, work together as a community, we will be able to prevent a child from receiving abuse and provide a happy childhood; every child deserves to have that.”