Articles will run weekly all month.

    April is National Child Abuse Prevention month.  Throughout the month, Polk County Child Abuse Prevention/Parents Helping Parents Advisory Board sponsors several activities educating our communities about child abuse and neglect.  Community members are encouraged to wear the color blue on Friday April 12, 2013, to help represent child abuse and neglect prevention.
    The following represents the first of 5 articles describing 6 protective factors that, according to research, when present in communities help build stronger families and protect our children.

Nurturing & Attachment
    The demands of work, home, and other responsibilities leaves many parents feeling like they do not have nearly enough time with their children. But even small acts of kindness, protection, and caring—a hug, a smile, or loving words—make a big difference to children. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, babies who receive affection and nurturing from their parents have the best chance of developing into children, teens, and adults who are happy, healthy, and competent. Research also shows that a consistent relationship with a caring adult in the early years is associated with better grades, healthier behaviors, more positive peer interactions, and an increased ability to cope with stress later in life.

    Infant brains develop best when a few stable caregivers work to understand and meet the infant’s need for love, affection, and stimulation. Conversely, neglectful and abusive parenting can have a negative effect on brain development. A lack of contact or interaction with a caregiver can change the infant’s body chemistry, resulting in a reduction in the growth hormones essential for brain and heart development. Furthermore, children who lack early emotional attachments will have a difficult time relating to peers.

    As children grow, nurturing by parents and other caregivers remains important for healthy physical and emotional development. Parents nurture their older children by making time to listen to them, being involved and interested in the child’s school and other activities, staying aware of the child or teen’s interests and friends, and being willing to advocate for the child when necessary.  Even a few minutes of quality time in the car, at the store, or while cooking dinner mean so much to a child. Your role as a parent/caregiver is to model and acknowledge nurturing behaviors that make connections with your baby, child, or teen.  

    April Child Abuse Prevention activities are sponsored by the Polk County Child Abuse Prevention/Parents Helping Parents (PHP), which also offer a parent support group open to all families throughout Polk County, in Crookston, Tuesdays, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Community Family Service Center (formerly Carman School) at 1407 Erskine St.

    Meetings are free, open to anyone living in Polk County and include free onsite childcare facilitated by licensed teachers.  Pre-registration or registration is not required.  For more information contact Polk County Public Health at 218.281.3385 or visit