TOPEKA — The Kansas Senate voted in a meeting on Wednesday to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in the state of Kansas. The event has been recognized nationally since 1983, in an effort to raise awareness for physical, mental, and sexual abuse enacted upon minors.
Kansas is one of 11 states to officially proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, as of 2014 over 600,000 children in the United States were victims of abuse or neglect, with another 1,580 children passing away as a result of abuse or neglect during that year.
The first federal child protection act, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, was signed into legislation in 1974 by President Richard Nixon. This act also created the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect within the Children’s Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The most recent legislation regarding child abuse, the Family First Prevention Services Act was enacted last year. The act allows for federal reimbursement on a number of services, including mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and parenting skill training in an effort to reduce the number of children placed into foster care and improve the quality of life of children already in the system.
In the Senate’s official recognition resolution, Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) and Senate Secretary Corey Carnahan (R-Topeka) wrote that “[C]hildren are key to the state's future success, prosperity and quality of life” and deserve “a right to be safe and to be provided with an opportunity to thrive, learn and grow”.
Wagle and Carnahan further state that the goal of declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention month is to “ensure that Kansas children will grow to reach their full potential” by providing “safe, stable and nurturing relationships” as parents and caretakers.
The resolution was sponsored by Sens. Pat Pettey (D-Kansas City) and Mary Jo Taylor (R-Stafford) and went into effect on Thursday.
Marissa Ventrelli is a University of Kansas junior from Chicago majoring in journalism.