Gov. names April month to help prevent child abuse

Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday signed a proclamation naming April as Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month.

“Each and every one of us plays a critical role in reporting and preventing child abuse and neglect in our state,” the governor told a crowd gathered at the Little Flower Learning Center in Albuquerque. During the month of April, the Children, Youth and Families Department throughout the state “will be holding child abuse prevention events aimed at raising awareness in our communities, and we will be using this month’s campaign to stress the importance of reporting suspected abuse and neglect.”

Since the #SAFE cellphone service was established in 2011, allowing people to report child abuse and neglect, anonymously if they choose, CYFD’s state Central Intake unit has been fielding from 35,000 to 38,000 calls a year. For each of the past two years, 20,000 of those calls met the standard for further investigation. About 75 percent of those calls were for some type of neglect.

For years, the largest number of child abuse and neglect cases has been reported by law enforcement officers, school personnel and medical professionals. A new trend tracked in the past six months adds family members to the list of frequent reporters, Martinez said.

“Families now more than ever understand that, in situations where their own family members are having issues, they can take action, make a report to CYFD and get these children the help they need,” Martinez said. Not only does this help protect children, but it all helps parents and guardians get help and support to become “better providers and protectors.”

During the month of April, CYFD will be sponsoring fun walks, and will attend community events and fairs to hand out literature about child abuse and neglect, and how to report it, said CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson. She added that “child abuse is 100 percent preventable.”