April is a busy month.
Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. sponsors NCADD Alcohol Awareness Month.
Since 1983, when April was declared Child Abuse Prevention Month by presidential proclamation, this spring month is set aside as a time when the importance of individuals, families and communities working together to prevent child abuse is the focus.
And this past week, Gov. Mike Beebe issued a proclamation designating April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Arkansas, according to a news release.
“April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a nationwide effort to call attention to the fact that sexual violence is widespread and impacts every community in our country. Sexual violence is a devastating and indefensible crime, affecting women, children and men of all racial, cultural and economic backgrounds. In Arkansas, one in five women will experience a sexual assault at some point in her lifetime,” the news release states.
Regional University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Area Health Education Centers will hold a multitude of events throughout the month to spotlight each issue as well as what can be done to prevent them, according to officials who state that it makes sense to have the three abuse awareness months combined in one.
Oftentimes in a home where one type of abuse is present, at least one of the others is as well, a spokesperson from UAMS said.
More public information events will be planned throughout the next few months to shine a spotlight on each of the problems.
The goal of the NCADD is to increase awareness of alcohol abuse, reduce the stigma and encourage communities to focus on the alcoholism and related issues. During April, the council hopes to highlight the issues of underage drinking, “a problem with devastating individual, family and community consequences.”
According to the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking, underage drinking “plays a significant role in risky sexual behavior, including unwanted, unintended and unprotected sexual activity …” and increases the risk of physical and sexual assault.
“Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous — both to themselves and to society, and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors. Annually, over 6,500 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related accidents and thousands more are injured,” the NCADD states on its website.
This is designated as Alcohol-Free Weekend. “An integral part of Alcohol Awareness Month is Alcohol-Free Weekend, which is designed to raise public awareness about the use of alcohol and how it may be affecting individuals, families and the community,” the site states.
This year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month also focuses on the young — specifically on healthy sexuality and young people.
And April has been a time to be aware of the abuse hurting our children for more than three decades.
“It was reported that in 2011 … an estimated 676,596 children were victims of child abuse; and 1,545 children died as a result of abuse or neglect,” states the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.
Maybe by taking a month to understand the abuse and learn how to prevent it, we can make real progress to keep our children safe and healthy.
Maybe with a month of knowledge, we can drastically reduce all these numbers.