Building Together: BRIDGES of Palm Beach County recognize that all community members have a role in ensuring children have positive experiences and families have the resources they need when they need them, well before they are in crisis. BRIDGES believe that child abuse and neglect are preventable, and all communities benefit when children and families are well supported. The theme of this year’s awareness and impact campaign is “Building Together: Prevention in Partnership.”


What Are Some Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect?

Child Abuse Prevention Month was created because child abuse and neglect was both widespread and too often invisible. “Our children are our future” may be a cliche, but it’s still true that the more adults can have a positive impact on a child’s experiences, the stronger society will be. A safe, stable, and nurturing environment can have a proven positive effect on brain development. Research shows that children who suffer from the prolonged stress of abuse and neglect tend to struggle in their behavioral, physical, and cognitive abilities. The effects of early trauma tend to continue through generations. In contrast, experiencing support in early childhood can prevent or even reverse the damaging effects of early life stress, with lifelong benefits for a young person’s learning, behavior, and health. Whatever seeds have been planted, or not planted, will affect a person’s health, ability to learn, and ultimately, earning power.

Child abuse and neglect doesn’t stem from just one cause, which is why stopping its destructive cycle is so difficult. Living in a community with a high rate of violence, limited access to social services, poverty, and unemployment are all major factors. Addressing community needs by giving families support has much more impact, and costs much less, than attempting to address the consequences of adversity after a child has grown up.