Child Abuse Prevention Month 2024

April 2024 - You might notice blue pinwheels placed outside of businesses, homes, or even our office while out and about during the month of April! That’s because the pinwheel symbolizes Child Abuse Prevention which we are working to raise awareness for during the month of April.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of communities working together to help families thrive and prevent child maltreatment. During the month of April and throughout the year, communities are encouraged to increase awareness about child and family well-being and work together to implement effective strategies that support families and prevent child abuse and neglect.


WHY CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MATTERS:

Child abuse comes in many forms – physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect. It knows no boundaries of age, race, socioeconomic status, or geographic location. Every child deserves to grow up in a nurturing and supportive environment, free from harm. Yet, the reality is that millions of children around the world suffer from abuse and neglect each year.

  • More than 600,000 children are abused in the U.S. each year. (Source: National Child Alliance)
  • At least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse or neglect in the past year in the United States. (Source: CDC)

The impacts of child abuse can be devastating and long-lasting. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events or experiences that occur during childhood and can have lasting impacts on an individual's health, well-being, and life outcomes. The more ACEs a person experiences, the higher risk for a range of health problems into adulthood, including chronic physical conditions such as autoimmune disorders, mental health conditions, and more.


CHILD ABUSE IN WYOMING:

Unfortunately, child abuse is happening in the state of Wyoming. Here is a look at just a few of the cases that Wyoming saw in 2023:

  • March: Travis Gonsalves, of Casper, was found guilty of one count of sexual abuse of a minor in the second and third degree as well as possession of child pornography. Investigations began after the victim disclosed Gonsalves had touched her inappropriately in the bed of a hotel and that he “touched and raped her for as long as she could remember.” Images of child pornography were found on a hard drive belonging to Gonsalves.

  • May: Mills resident, Jimmy Harvard, sentenced to 13-15 years on three counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the third degree. Investigations revealed “disturbing and terrible behavior”. At sentencing, Harvard advocated for the maximum possible penalty. Harvard had a previous conviction of a sex crime in South Dakota.

  • December: James Brite, 39, charged with almost two dozen counts of sexual abuse of a minor. The charges involve five separate victims and date back to 2008. A 10-year old victim reported Brite was her babysitter when the instances happened and referred to her as “his little girlfriend.” In 2020, an anonymous tip revealed Brite had intercourse with a 15-year-old girl while camping at a state event and many witnesses stated they “acted like a couple.” Additional victims came forward in 2022 and 2023.


THE CHILDREN'S ADVOCACY PROJECT'S ROLE:

Since opening in 2002, the Children’s Advocacy Project has worked to provide a coordinated and multidisciplinary response to allegations of child abuse in a child-friendly environment.

The Children’s Advocacy Project aims to ensure that children who have experienced abuse or neglect in Natrona County and throughout Wyoming receive the support, resources, and services they need to heal and thrive. While also working to providing educational resources to the community through in-school and adult trainings.

Overall, the Children’s Advocacy Project works to ensure that child abuse victims receive the care, support, and justice they deserve while working to prevent future instances of abuse and promote the safety and well-being of all children in the community.

WHAT YOU CAN DO AS A PARENT/CAREGIVER:

  1. Educate Yourself: Learn about the signs of child abuse and neglect so you can better know when to respond to a situation that makes you or your child uncomfortable.

  2. Teach Body Safety: Educate your child about body safety and personal boundaries from an early age. Teach them the names of their body parts, explain appropriate and inappropriate touches, and empower them to say no to anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

  3. Monitor Your Child's Activities: Stay involved in your child's life and monitor their activities both online and offline. Know who they are spending time with, where they are going, and what they are doing. Encourage open communication and let your child know they can come to you with any concerns or questions.

  4. Seek Help if Needed: If you are struggling with parenting or feeling overwhelmed, don't hesitate to seek help from a trusted professional, such as a therapist, counselor, or parenting coach. Asking for support is a sign of strength and can help prevent child abuse.


WHAT YOU CAN DO AS A COMMUNITY MEMBER:

  1. Education and Awareness: Knowledge is power. By educating ourselves and others about the signs and consequences of child abuse, we can better identify and respond to situations of concern. Together we can advocate for change.

  2. Know the Law: In the state of Wyoming, everyone is required by state law to report knowledge or suspicions of child abuse or neglect, which is why learning the signs and symptoms of abuse can be so important. That means that you are a mandatory reporter!

  3. Support Organizations: By supporting organizations that support strengthening economic support for families, we can work toward child abuse prevention.

  4. Make a Donation: A gift to the Children’s Advocacy Project means that every child that walks through our doors will receive comprehensive and coordinated care at no cost.


OTHER WAYS TO GET INVOLVED DURING CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH:

Join Us all Month Long: Stay tuned on the Children’s Advocacy Project’s Instagram or Facebook as we continue to share prevention information!

  • Wear Blue Day: Get out your blue jeans and favorite blue tee to show your support for strong families, safe kids, and the prevention of child abuse on Friday, April, 52024. Post the photo of your blue and tell us why you support safe, happy childhoods using the #WYIWearBlue

  • Pinwheel Garden: Join us at the Children’s Advocacy Project building (350 N. Ash, Casper, WY 82601) on Monday, April 8, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. A pinwheel will be planted for each victim of abuse and maltreatment we served in 2022 – 282 children, 282 pinwheels. We hope these pinwheels serve as a visual reminder of the child abuse that continues to occur in our own community.

Pinwheel Garden Coloring Pages:
(click the sheet you like > download/print > color > enjoy!):