Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider inked three proclamations at a signing ceremony held at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe yesterday morning.
More than 50 students, government officials, private organizations, and media attended the proclamation signing during the hour-and-a-half presentation.
All proclamations designate April as the official month to highlight the specific objectives of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Child Abuse & Neglect Awareness Month, and Week of the Young Child.
Child Abuse & Neglect Awareness Month
Division of Youth Services administrator Vivian Sablan said the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs-DYS continues to build on its capacity: “One, prevent child abuse and neglect; two, respond to child abuse and neglect; and three, manage and supervise cases and provide supportive programs and services, which are all essential components needed to work toward the ultimate goal of re-unification and thus preserving families.”
DYS volunteer Mary Grace Atalig, who read the proclamation, stated that “every child is entitled to be loved, cared for, secured, and protected from verbal, sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, exploitation, and neglect.”
The theme for this year Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Campaign is “Making Meaningful Connections.”
“Making meaningful connections warrants the ability to work with both risk and protective factors as an effective prevention and intervention strategy,” Sablan said.
“We believe that prevention is key and that is to work toward eliminating the risk factors. We need to build on these protective factors to lessen the risk of child abuse and neglect,” she added.
DYS continues to offer Parent Education classes, Parents Anonymous Support Group meetings, Parent Development Workshops, school and community presentations on Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, and many more outreach programs.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Kiki Igitol Benjamin, a member of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Committee, said this year “marks the sixth consecutive year that the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, in partnership with the Family Violence Task Force, has reaffirmed their dedication to not only lift the veil of secrecy but to increase awareness, engage bystanders, and expand support and strengthen our system response.”
The theme “Your Voice, Our Future: End Sexual Violence,” encourages all community members to use their voice to create a future and a community free of sexual violence.
“We can start also challenges within us, as a community, to be a part of the solution to strengthening prevention efforts and ending sexual violence,” read volunteer Annie Brazel.
Benjamin said the purpose of the awareness campaign is to increase public education efforts that encourage collective action toward ending sexual assault, supporting survivors, and speaking out against the harmful attitudes that perpetuate violence in the CNMI.
Early Childhood Month/Week of the Young Child
The last proclamation signed was the Early Childhood Month proclamation that also designated the “Week of the Young Child” from April 6 to 12 in conjunction with the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Youth Affairs Office’s Vernon Lee Manglona, who read the proclamation, stated that “it is a time to recognize the importance of early learning, early literacy, and to celebrate the teachers, caregivers, and policymakers that bring early childhood education to young children.”
According to Motheread/Fatheread Program’s Beth Demapan, early childhood professionals work together to improve practices and working conditions in early childhood education and build public support for better programs.
“Community partners support health and safety, nutrition and social services for our young children, and families to ensure high-quality services needed to achieve positive outcomes and self-reliance,” Demapan said.