The month of April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM), which focuses on building up communities and their resources to help families succeed and prevent child maltreatment.
Using the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) framework, we highlight the dialectic of protective factors vs. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) to highlight the focus on prevention efforts while also acknowledging the impact of traumatic events that kids and families have been through.
Protective factors are attributes that, when present in families and communities, help strengthen the overall well-being of children and families. There are 6 specific protective factor qualities: nurturing and attachment, knowledge of parenting and child and youth development, parental resilience, social connection, concrete supports for parents, and social and emotional competence of children. When communities work together to identify protective factors, they help families regulate emotions, tolerate distress, and advocate for their needs more effectively. Protective factors also promote pleasant events, healthy relationship development, and greater mindfulness to the present moment.
On the other hand, ACES include all traumatic events that occur before a child turns 18 years old. This consists of all types of abuse and neglect, parental substance use or mental illness, parental incarceration, domestic violence, and divorce. Research by Dr. Bruce Perry shows a significant relationship between ACES and poor health outcomes as an adult. Data shows that children within the child welfare system have had at least one adverse childhood experience. Learning about ACES and their impact helps better prepare our communities for implementing trauma-informed interventions to mitigate harm and improve outcomes for youth and families.
We at CBM are committed to this work within our individual and group caseloads, as well as within the greater community. Through the sharing of community resources, ongoing communication about risk and resiliency, as well as actively educating and teaching DBT Skills throughout our community in therapy, in Family Skills Workshops and in classrooms using DBT STEPS-A, we strive to help families thrive.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. #ThrivingFamilies