“Making Meaningful Connections” is the theme for National Child Abuse Prevention Month this April. The theme focuses on providing both organizations and individuals with tips and tools for building more connected communities and strengthening families.

In Louisiana, Child Abuse Prevention Month coincided with the release of an April 9 report from the La. Legislative Auditor focused on the Department of Children and Family services. The report related several key statistics concerning child abuse and neglect at both the state level and within Morehouse Parish.

In the state in 2013, there were 31 fatalities from validated cases of abuse or neglect. In Morehouse during the same time period, the report lists valid allegations that included 286 cases of neglect, 40 of physical abuse and 20 of sexual abuse.

As a dedication to all victims of child abuse, The Wellspring Alliance for Families, which serves all of Northeast Louisiana and maintains an office in Bastrop, is dedicating a Japanese Red Maple tree at The Wellspring Keller House in Monroe on Friday, April 25 at 10 a.m.

“The Wellspring is a community leader providing services that strengthen and value individuals and families from all walks of life,” Rachel Niblett, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, said, “We are dedicated to raising awareness about child abuse, as well as sexual and domestic abuse. We educate communities and individuals on how to prevent abuse through outreach programs, mentoring programs and more.”

The tree planting and dedication will occur as part of an Arbor Day Celebration hosted by B & B Tree Service.

For local groups wanting to take an active role in helping to prevent child abuse and promote family well-being, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends everything from baby steps, such as participating in activities at local libraries or community centers to meet your neighbors, to big steps, like attending local government meetings and advocating for strong schools and community resources.