MUSCATINE, Iowa—This year, even if you cannot participate in public events, the Mississippi Valley Child Protection Center in Muscatine encourages you to observe Child Abuse Prevention Month and learn to stop child abuse in our county.
Child Protection Center Family Advocate and Medical Coordinator Jenna Wagner explained that Child Abuse Prevention Month offers, “a great way to focus on what we are doing as a community to prevent child abuse and neglect and what more we can do to ensure that all children grow up in a healthy and safe home.”
To this end, the Child Protection Center will host their annual Blue Out Day April 3. On that day, they encourage everyone across the county to wear blue at home, and to share photos of themselves on social media using the hashtag #greatchildhoodmuscatine.
Along with participating in Blue Out Day, Wagner encourages people to learn the signs of child abuse and how to respond. “You’re looking for anything that seems off or out of the ordinary, such as unexplained bruising, changes in mood or temper, inappropriate clothing for the weather, poor hygiene, or changes in behavior,” she said.
If you do suspect child abuse, Wagner recommends not asking the child too many questions, but instead contacting the Department of Human Services at 1-800-362-2178 and your local police department. “The Department of Human Services and Muscatine multidisciplinary professionals will be able to connect children to the tailored services within the community; we are fortunate to have several specialized resources in the community that can step up to take care of these needs,” she elaborated. These resources include the Child Protection Center, which as one of six accredited child advocacy centers in Iowa provides forensic interviews and medical exams, advocacy for children and families, and programming to assist children exposed to drugs or alcohol prenatally or in their living environments.
As Child Abuse Prevention month kicks off, Wagner encourages everyone to learn how they can help end child abuse, “April is a good time to come together as a community to become more aware of the signs of child abuse and neglect and what we are doing and what we can do as a community to help prevent child abuse,” she emphasized.