Children standing together
Apr 11, 2024

Five Days of Action: National Child Abuse Prevention Month 2024 at the YMCA 

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and one of its centerpieces is the YMCA of the USA’s “Five Days of Action” set in 2024 for April 15-19. The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago is proud to participate in this weeklong campaign which aims to not only raise awareness, but also inspire adults to take action to protect children from abuse. 

National Child Abuse Prevention Month dates to 1982, when the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives resolved to create a National Child Abuse Prevention Week. The following year, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Those efforts have increased ever since, and the first federal child protection legislation (the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act) was passed in 1974. 

As an organization that values the safety of all individuals and families, we make child protection our top priority throughout the year. Five Days of Action not only increases awareness of child sexual abuse, but it also empowers and equips our communities to prevent it. 

One of the cornerstones of Five Days of Action is something we call Know. See. Respond.  

Know: If you know what to look for in terms of child sexual abuse and how to keep it from happening, you’re ahead of the game. We play a key role in protection as parents, caregivers, and trusted adults in the lives of young people. Visit to learn about the different types of abuse and its signs. 

See: If signs of abuse are seen, we can intervene. A large part of that happens online, as media and technology are at the center of our lives — and are an ever-growing part of our children’s lives as well. Some tools and resources can make an environment (particularly online) safer. Visit for ideas. 

To accomplish “see,” you must be proactive. Keep your eyes and ears open. Talk with your child and ask them about any concerns you have. If what you’ve seen or heard — or what your child tells you — sounds like abuse, call the Child Abuse Hotline at 800-25-ABUSE (800-252-2873) or dial 911 and contact the police. 

Respond: Be ready to respond when you suspect abuse. It’s imperative to know when and how to report suspected child abuse. It may be difficult to talk about, but it is important to speak out. Via its Hot Chocolate Talk campaign, the Committee for Children has compiled years of research in guides that can help you with these difficult conversations. Visit for more information. 

According to the National Children’s Alliance: 

  • An estimated 600,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2021, a number that might be underreported because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The safety of more than 7 million children is ensured by child welfare authorities. That includes about 3 million children who received an investigation by protective agencies and 1.8 million receiving protective services. 
  • 15% of all victims are children in their first year; 28% are no more than 2 years old. 
  • An estimated 1,820 children died from abuse and neglect in the U.S. in 2021. 
  • The most common form of abuse is neglect, accounting for 76%. Physical abuse accounts for 16% and sexual abuse accounts for 10%. 
  • Parents account for 77% of abuse. 
  • About one in five cases involved child-on-child abuse. 

Be assured that we at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago take the issue of child safety seriously. The health, safety, and wellbeing of each of our community members is our highest priority. 

Last year, we were proud to announce that our Association had earned Praesidium Accreditation, which is the highest recognition in abuse-prevention practices. Praesidium is an international leader in abuse risk management and has partnered with and helped  thousands of organizations over the last two decades. 

To achieve that accreditation, the Y underwent a rigorous process to implement Praesidium’s accreditation standards that focus on eight primary operational areas: policies; screening and selection; training; monitoring and supervision; consumer participation; internal feedback systems; responding; and administrative practices. Praesidium verified that these standards were successfully implemented. 

We are committed to upholding fundamental organizational values and stringent safety practices that demonstrate our vigilance in protecting individuals and families in our care from sexual abuse.

As always, childhood should be some of the best days in anyone’s life. Ensure that it is for our Y families by joining us in rooting our problems as (or before) they occur. We must all be involved to ensure the safety of our youngest community members.