Department of Children and Families
David E. Wilkins
March 30, 2012
DCF Press Secretary,
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins and Prevent Child Abuse Florida Executive Director Anita Odom were joined by Florida Kiwanis Governor Eddie Lee, Family First Director of Content Bryan Davis and 40 children from Betton Hills Preparatory School at an event held in Tallahassee to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and promote Florida's Pinwheels for Prevention campaign.
Florida's Pinwheels for Prevention campaign is part of a national movement to change the way we think about child abuse prevention by focusing on community activities and public policies that prioritize healthy child development right from the start so abuse and neglect never begins. A skit performed at the event highlighted some solutions to a serious problem that impedes healthy child development in schools and communities throughout Florida – bullying. Bullying comes in many forms and causes a laundry list of serious problems for everyone involved; but fortunately, it is preventable.
"Bullying is not a rite of passage. It is not something that kids just do. It is peer abuse and needs to be effectively addressed," Odom said. "Our schools have starting addressing this issue, but they can't succeed without our support. Research shows that the most effective bullying prevention efforts involve cooperation among children, parents, schools, and community members."
Secretary Wilkins said the Department of Children and Families is proud to support all efforts to reduce child abuse and urged every Floridian to report suspected abuse, neglect or unsafe conditions to the Florida Abuse Hotline – 1-800-962-2873.
"It truly takes the compassion and attention of each Floridian to help the Department and all of our partners ensure the safety of a child," said Wilkins. "Together, we can help break the cycle of abuse and create the opportunity for every child in Florida to enjoy a safe future and pursuit of their dreams."
While parents and other caregivers play a large role in child development, Kiwanis Governor Lee said children's experiences within the community with teachers, coaches, neighbors, home visitors and others also impact their development for better or worse. "When the entire community takes responsibility for creating healthy environments in which to raise our children, we lay the foundation for long-term community prosperity. Donating to children's causes, participating in youth-focused community organizations and lending a hand to family, friends or neighbors who are under stress are just a few ways we can promote healthy child, family and community development," he said.
As children's first teachers, parents have an important role to play in helping their children develop not only physically and mentally, but socially and emotionally as well. Bryan Davis of Family First says, "Teaching children social skills, like how to start a conversation, how to cope with stressful situations and when and how to ask an adult for help, is critical for their social development. These skills can also help prevent bullying because a confident, resourceful child who has friends is less likely to be bullied or to bully others."
For more information on bullying prevention and other topics related to healthy child development, and to see a list of other local Child Abuse Prevention Month events, visit www.ounce.org.
To help promote the initiative, DCF has launched a new Pinterest account at www.pinterest.com/MyFLFamilies. One of the boards is specifically for Pinwheels for Prevention, and people are encouraged to take a photo of themselves holding a blue pinwheel, pin it to their personal account and include #PinwheelsforPrevention in the description. DCF will then repin the images.
Photos of the event are available at http://s963.photobucket.com/albums/ae117/lparizek/