Iowans are called to promote positive childhood experiences, prevent abuse

DES MOINES — April is Child Abuse Prevention Month in Iowa

Prevent Child Abuse Iowa executive director Sharon Miller  says they hope to raise awareness about the problem which prompts some 35,000 investigations statewide each year.  Miller says, “It’s really a time for us to focus on the efforts of prevention, to advocate, and promote the work with others who work tirelessly to help children and families in our communities thrive.”

Miller says the biggest child abuse problem in Iowa is typically child neglect. “It can manifest as food insecurity, it can manifest as children being left home alone too long, their parents are working multiple jobs,” Miller says, “they’re not having their critical needs taken care of.”

State studies show about 59% of child abuse cases in Iowa involve neglect, followed by drug-related cases at 28%. Physical and sexual abuse make up a small fraction of cases, but a federal study finds sexual abuse is widely under-reported, with roughly one in four girls and one in 13 boys sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Miller says there is a message for the month, as they hope to promote positive childhood experiences and prevent the adversity children sometimes face.  “What we really would like folks to do is think about our neighbors because parenting is hard,” she says. “Raising children is hard, and what we know is that, the more connections and the more relationships that we have that can uplift and empower families, the better it is for the children.”

The annual Child Abuse Prevention Conference will be held April 30th and May 1st at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny. The state’s Child or Dependent Adult Abuse Hotline is 1-800-362-2178.