Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center brings awareness to National Child Abuse Prevention Month

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Williamston City Hall/ Photo Credit: Payton Shaffer

Williamston and counties throughout the country are working with organizations like Small Talk Child Advocacy Center and Michigan Children’s Trust Fund to commemorate in April National Child Abuse Prevention Month. 

On March 8, 2021, Williamston City Council held a meeting in which Small Talk presented its schedule and goals to prevent child abuse. 

Executive Director and Therapist for Small Talk, Alex Brace, said in an interview: “[Williamston] is signed on to our protocol to bring cases to our center when a child reports that they’ve been sexually or physically abused. They can come to our space, share their stories that can help start the investigation, and then those children can also receive counseling services at no cost.”

In April, Williamston is participating in the Pinwheels For Prevention Campaign, which involves planting pinwheel gardens in public spaces to represent child abuse prevention. 

What Williamston is doing for National Child Abuse Prevention Month

In his presentation at the March 8 Williamston City Council Meeting, Brace informed the council of statistics on child abuse and why it is so important to educate and to get involved.

Brace said “One in four girls and one in six boys will be abused before they turn the age of 18.”

He also emphasized that the work Small Talk does is mostly reactive in that it focuses on the solution to the issue and to also helping others understand the signs and severity of the issue of child abuse. 

Mayor of Williamston, Tammy Gilroy, said: “Bringing awareness to this is so important on so many levels. It is my hope that by acknowledging this, someone might know of a situation that needs intervention and would come forward to the appropriate authority if there were a child that was being harmed.”

Gilroy said Williamston is using multiple social media platforms to share the information on National Child Abuse Prevention month. Because of this, COVID has not impacted their efforts and Williamston will continue to educate others on this issue. 

Small Talk is asking Williamston residents to make a donation by buying a pinwheel kit for $25. 

The kit includes 10 pinwheels that can be planted in citizens’ yards, public spaces or wherever they would like to. It also includes information to help prevent child abuse and inform the public on more information regarding the work they do. 

Small Talk’s mission and goals 

Another way Small Talk educates the general public and participates in outreach programs is based on the Darkness to Light model. According to the Darkness to Light website, there are five steps to this model. The steps include learning the facts, minimizing opportunity, talking openly, understanding the signs of abuse and reacting. Small Talk then uses that model in a two-hour training on responding and preventing child abuse. 

Brace said: “Small Talk’s mission is to provide a safe environment for children to share their stories about sexual and severe physical abuse. We have a coordinated effort with law enforcement, children’s protective services, prosecutors and medical professionals to provide just hope, healing and support throughout the child abuse investigative process.”

The Michigan Children’s Trust Fund is also participating in educating on this issue, and specifically taking part in the pinwheel campaign. In 1982, the Governor of Michigan designated this organization to lead the state of Michigan in child abuse prevention efforts.

Michigan Children’s Trust Fund work to end abuse

Pinwheel planted in front of the Lansing Capitol Building. / Credit: Taylor Williams (used with permission by Suzanne Greenberg)

Executive Director of Michigan Children’s Trust Fund, Suzanne Greenberg, said: “Children’s Trust Fund is Michigan’s organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.  We accomplish this through our funding and technical support for over 100 programs serving all 83 counties.”

The organization works to educate the public through campaigns and presentations, visits to homes of potentially at-risk children and parental support/education. In April, there are several events the organization is participating in and organizing. For one, Wear Blue Day will take place on the first day of the month and communities are encouraged to wear blue clothing that day to honor the start of the month.

People are advised to check the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund website for the April calendar of events to participate in or donate to. 

“I know that parenting can be challenging but with a supportive community and the parenting information that is available, we can provide the hope that parents need to be their child’s first teacher and build a strong family to ensure that their children can thrive,” said Greenberg. “Each person can make a difference in creating a community where children know they are protected and nurtured.”

Infographic on Child Abuse Prevention and statistics / Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/communicationresources/infographics/CAN.html

Audio of the meeting:

Resources:

Williamston City Council Meeting Alex Brace presented at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRAuHzDaBgM

To order a pinwheel kit from Small Talk CAC, click here: https://forms.donorsnap.com/form?id=B3A4D23D-149A-40B8-AE21-132B169B9712

Small Talk CAC website: https://www.smalltalkcac.org

Michigan Children’s Trust Fund website: https://www.michigan.gov/ctf/