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Greater Importance for Child Abuse Prevention Month After Pandemic Year

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It's Child Abuse Prevention Month and this year the awareness campaign comes in the wake of a hard year with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Idaho saw a drastic uptick in abuse deaths during the pandemic: five in the past year. Before that, there had been no reported abuse deaths since 2017.

Molly Kaczmarek, practice manager for St. Luke's Children at Risk Evaluation Services clinic, said financial hardship and social isolation have played a role in increased trauma.

"We really are just worried about families and families needing to know that there's help out there," Kaczmarek explained. "There's been some resources created and information sent out, and April as Child Abuse Prevention Month is just one more opportunity that we have to raise awareness."

To show support for prevention month, Idahoans are wearing blue. Because of the pandemic, most events have gone virtual under the hashtag "Go blue for Idaho kids."

But Kaczmarek noted businesses have lit up blue and advocates have painted pinwheels and planted pinwheel gardens.

Earlier in April, Gov. Brad Little marked prevention month with a proclamation. Kaczmarek contended it's important to think about prevention beyond this month.

"It is such a great opportunity to raise awareness about child abuse and educate people about ways that they can prevent it, but it's really a topic and a conversation that needs to be happening all the time, not just in April," Kaczmarek asserted.

Kaczmarek added it's up to adults to take care of and protect children. With an end to the pandemic on the horizon, there are hopes that greater community connections will help stop the epidemic of abuse cases Idaho has seen over the past year.