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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the social work students at East Central University are gearing up to raise awareness in the community and help stomp out child abuse.

The students are taking small steps that can make a big impact. They are hanging blue ribbons across campus, setting up informative tables for students, parents, and community members in the Memorial Student Union and Horace Mann building, as well as handing out blue ribbons to promote child abuse prevention month and raise awareness.

Small positive actions can make a difference in the life of a child, the students said.

"The focus this year for child prevention month is to highlight actions each of us can take to help raise safe, healthy, resilient children," said Chandra Shores, one of the students in the class.

The theme, "It's Your Turn to Make a Difference for a Child," brings hope that all children can get a good start in life, if the adults around them take small actions to make a pattern of a supportive community and family environments in which children can grow and develop into productive citizens, say public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

According to the latest statistics available from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, in 2008 there were more than 11,700 confirmations of child abuse and/or neglect in Oklahoma. In 2007, 39 Oklahoma children died as a result of child abuse and neglect.

The OSDH Family Support & Prevention Service offers the following parenting tips:

  • Help your children feel loved and secure, even when they do something wrong.
  • Encourage your children by praising their achievements, talents, and efforts. Recognize the skills they are learning.
  • Spend time with your children doing things that you both enjoy. Listen to them.
  • Learn how to use nonphysical options for discipline that are appropriate for your child's age and development, and/or redirect your child's attention by offering positive choices, and use "time out" as an age-appropriate way to discipline.
  • Seek help if you need it. Sometimes special circumstances like unemployment, or a child with special needs, can add stress to a family. If you need additional support, try to talk to a friend, health care provider, faith leader or counselor or join a support group for parents.

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