Lynne A. Valenti
Cabinet Secretary

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April 5, 2006

Community Involvement Important in the
Fight against Child Abuse

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Social Services is working hard during the month of April to educate communities, parents, educators, and other child care providers about the importance of protecting children against abuse and neglect. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and is a time to join together with people in the community and other partners to help in the fight against child abuse and neglect.

“Keeping families strong and protecting children are a shared goal,” said Division Director of Child Protection Services Virgena Wieseler. “Our Department strives to involve families with their communities and encourages them to support programs that foster prevention of child abuse and neglect.”

The Department of Social Services recently distributed 900 Child Abuse Prevention Kits to public and private schools, child protection teams, child care centers, parenting partners, Head Start Centers, and local DSS offices. The packets contain community and parent educational materials to be used throughout the year, activities designed especially for Child Abuse Prevention Month, and suggestions for developing public awareness campaigns. Also, Child Protection Offices have been provided with magnetic, blue ribbons that say “Protect Children,” which will be handed out to community partners.

Below are some highlighted events happening in communities throughout the state:

  • April 5, 2006: Child Abuse Prevention Rally, 12:00 p.m. at the Sioux Falls Bowden Center
  • April 6, 2006: “Light of Hope” Candle Ceremony, 7:00 p.m. at the Deadwood Post Office
  • April 13, 2006: Child Protection Council Luncheon, 11:30 a.m. at the Ramkota in Rapid City

Strong families are South Dakota’s foundation and our future. Communities can help support families in many ways; from providing financial assistance, to safe places for children to play, to better housing, and parent education. There are many factors that correlate in the reduction of child abuse and neglect and it starts at home with parental resilience, nurturing and attachment, social connections, parenting and child development knowledge, effective communication skills, and concrete support.

To find out how you can get involved in your community to help children and families or to report child abuse and neglect, contact your local DSS office. To make a report after hours, contact your local law enforcement agency. Additional information about child abuse and neglect can be found online.