Lawmakers joined stakeholders in proclaiming April as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Early Childhood Month last Wednesday at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center.
Advocates said it is important for the community to understand the growth of children by recognizing the importance of early learning, early literacy, and to celebrate the teachers, caregivers, and policymakers that bring early childhood education to young children.
Jolene Guerrero and Rose Skilling of CNMI Head Start Program read the proclamation for Early Childhood Month that includes Week of the Young Child to run from April 12 to 18.
“Early childhood is an important period for children’s learning. What they learn during these years plays an important role in their development. Early childhood education typically focuses on five domains: cognition, physical development, physical and emotional development, language and literacy, and approaches to learning,” Skilling said.
Skilling said an important process for this is family engagement. “Families are the first and lifelong educators for their children. It is important childhood programs and families to build relationships to support the development of their children.”
Guerrero said the Week of the Young Child focuses on the quality of educational and developmental services from birth to age 8.
Joining the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs-Division of Youth Services staff during the proclamation were Oleai Elementary School teachers and students, who read the proclamation.
“Every child is entitled to be loved, cared for, secured, and protected from verbal, sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, exploitation and neglect. It is the responsibility of our society to protect and promote every child’s rights,” the students read.
“Child abuse and neglect can be reduced by making every family safe, secure, and the support needed to raise their children in a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment. Free of domestic violence, abuse and neglect, the CNMI’s children will grow to fulfill their potential as our future leaders,” they said.
DYS reported that in fiscal year 2014, 218 cases were reported to them. Of that number, 51 was for physical abuse, 44 for sexual abuse, 20 for emotional abuse, and 79 for neglect cases.
DYS representatives want to continue to provide prevention programs and intervention services to highlight and build on family protective factors, while also working toward reducing risk factors in its continued efforts to ultimately strengthen families in the CNMI.
Mt. Carmel School Youth Congress Sen. Thomas Manglona, in his welcoming remarks. noted that the fight against child abuse and neglect, including sexual violence, is far from over.
“You probably have heard that we, the young, are visual learners. Please keep in mind that youth watch the way adults behave, how you make decisions, and the way you lead. So let us see more good things for our youth to emulate,” Manglona said.
Activities for April
A series of activities have been lined up for the observance of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Early Childhood Month:
April 6 to 11: Health and Safety Week
April 11: Northern Marianas College Health Fair and Sports Flash at the Multi-Purpose Center.
April 11: National Library Week proclamation signing, 10am, at the Joeten Kiyu Public Library’s main lobby.
April 12 to 18: Week of the Young Child and National Library Week. JKPL and Motheread/Fatheread Program will have sessions throughout the week.
April 19: National Bookmobile Day for JKPL.
April 20 to 25: Arts and Culture Week. DYS will host parenting classes from Monday to Friday.
April 23 to 26: 34th Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival
April 27 to May 2: Early learning and family engagement with DCCA’s Child Care Development Fund Daycare Centers.