Hundreds to Rally in Lansing for Child Abuse Prevention
LANSING, Mich. - Dozens of Michigan children die each year due to abuse or neglect, and today people from around the state will gather in Lansing to highlight the importance of prevention.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Michigan Children's Trust Fund is hosting its 8th annual Prevention Awareness Day rally at the statehouse.
Executive director Michael Foley explains children from all walks of life can become the victim of abuse or neglect.
"Somewhere around 38,000 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect happened in Michigan last year," says Foley. "So there's a lot of attention to things that are going on that are not ideal that are reported. Not all of those are substantiated but clearly it remains a very big issue."
Hundreds are expected at the rally, which will recognize the issues of child maltreatment and honor all children and families of Michigan. According to federal data, 76 Michigan children died as the result of abuse or neglect in 2014; nationwide there were 1,500 fatalities.
Foley says it's the responsibility of everyone in a community to keep children safe.
And while there are sometimes physical signs of abuse, he notes teachers, coaches, and other adults who work with children should watch for behavioral changes as well.
"A child is stepping back and not making connection with other kids," Foley says. "Not doing eye contact. Or acting out in inappropriate ways. You know there are a variety of things like that that are indicators that maybe something is going on with that child."
Michigan Children's Trust Fund works to address the risk factors that can contribute to situations of abuse and neglect. Foley says that can include poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence, or mental health troubles in a family's home.
"Any of a variety of those kinds of circumstances where a baby is born is going to create difficulties and challenges," Foley says. "And it's going to make it difficult even for the best-meaning families to do all of what's optimally sought for a baby in terms of development, etc."
Today's event will include the planting of a pinwheel garden. The pinwheel is a national symbol of child abuse and neglect prevention and represents the belief that each child has the right to grow in a nurturing environment.