Childhood Adversity Is Public, Preventable and Solvable
A new website and communications tool kit offer research-informed guidance to help human services professionals talk with the public, the media and policymakers about child abuse prevention.
Released during Child Abuse Prevention Month in April 2022, but intended for use well beyond, the new Building Better Childhood resources emphasize that childhood adversity is public, preventable and solvable. Included in the tool kit are videos, social media graphics and sample talking points.
Prevent Child Abuse America and Social Current built the communications campaign using recommendations from “Reframing Childhood Adversity: Promoting Upstream Solutions,” a brief published by the FrameWorks Institute in 2021.
Prevent Child Abuse America is partnered with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, and the U.S. Children’s Bureau in Thriving Families, Safer Children, a first-of-its-kind national effort working across public, private and philanthropic sectors to create conditions that strengthen families and develop more just and equitable child welfare systems. The goal is to promote families’ health, well-being and economic success by supporting alternatives that prevent family separation.
“Together, our organizations envision a future in which young people and families receive effective, research-informed support and robust opportunities in their communities that foster their well-being and reduce the need for interventions by the child welfare system,” says Leslie Gross, director of the Casey Foundation’s Family Well-Being Strategy Group. “The Building Better Childhoods tools enable practitioners, professionals, media and the public to be part of this important conversation.”
To direct the public’s attention toward prevention and solutions, effective communications focus on root causes of neglect and abuse, which include the economic insecurity and racism that place overwhelming pressures on many families, notes the “Reframing Childhood Adversity” brief. It is more common, particularly in the media, to hear language that blames parents or sensationalizes incidents without ever identifying the systemic and solvable issues that contribute to family circumstances often labeled as neglect.
“Make the story one where we all have a stake and a role in outcomes that matter,” the brief says. The resulting messages would resonate with a broad range of audiences, aid public understanding and help build support for prevention goals, it says. “When it comes to childhood adversity — and especially abuse and neglect — the communications challenge is not to convince people that a problem exists; it’s to convince them that we can do something about it.”