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Media outreach raises awareness. Can it do more?

Categories: Violence Prevention

Child maltreatment is a significant public health problem in the United States, and preventing it is one of the priorities of CDC’s Injury Center.

During this year’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, center staff worked hard to raise awareness about child maltreatment and highlight the agency’s prevention efforts.

The April 4, 2008, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report featured an article about nonfatal maltreatment among infants, along with a notice to readers about National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Also in April, we published Child Maltreatment Surveillance: Uniform Definitions for Public Health and Recommended Data Elements, which aims to improve data collection on child maltreatment so we have a clearer picture of the problem.

These reports were highly publicized through a media roll-out. We issued a media advisory to 2,000 health editors and more than 300 medical reporters; and, with the Administration for Children and Families, held a telebriefing to present the MMWR findings and answer reporters’ questions.

We updated our violence prevention website and used new media to reach audiences we might not typically, launching healthy parenting e-cards and adding the new definitions to Wikipedia’s entry on child maltreatment.

We also reached out to partners through mailings, and staff participated in the Federal Interagency Workgroup on Child Maltreatment and in a webcast hosted by organizations representing state and local health and injury officials.

The response to these activities was terrific. The media advisory resulted in more than 150 original news stories. But, despite this successful effort, I’m left wondering how many people we really reached with our messages and how we can reach more. We would like to know what you’ve done to raise awareness about child maltreatment in your communities. Are there new outreach approaches you’ve used that have been effective, and what impacts have you had, both short- and long-term?

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