This month, we are recognizing three causes that we hold very close to our hearts during National Youth Violence Prevention Week, National Child Abuse Prevention Month and National Counseling Awareness Month.

Counseling goes hand-in-hand with youth violence and child abuse prevention. We at the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services work year round to ensure our 29 agencies and 28 shelters around the state work to provide counseling to families who are at-risk for violence. In addition, we provide counseling services to those who have been affected by violence. In fact, last year, we delivered counseling and case management to 16,361 youth and their families. And youth who went through our programs left crime free at a rate of 86 percent for those who stayed in our shelters and at a rate of 96 percent for those who utilized our non-residential services.

National Youth Violence Prevention Week was April 3 – April 7. During this time, we helped spread awareness and inform youth, teachers and school staff, parents and the public on ways to prevent and reduce youth violence. If youth are experiencing violence, in school or after school, it can lead to a range of issues including skipping school, poor grades and problems at home and can even result in youth getting into trouble with the law. One way the Florida Network works to combat youth violence is through SNAP, or Stop Now And Plan, a 13-week program which addresses topics such as how to deal with anger, how to cope and how to practice self control in order to prevent bullying.

In addition, April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Florida Network shelters work to offer crisis intervention services and a safe place to stay for youth who may be experiencing violence or neglect from the adults who should be caring for them. We provide counseling to youth and their families who are experiencing conflict and instability in the home in order to help deter destructive behavior before it is too late. Strong, nurturing communities also can play a major role in preventing child abuse by supporting families and promoting child and family well-being. Anyone can help prevent child abuse and even intervene by knowing the signs of child abuse. Other ways to get involved this month are listed in this activity calendar with resources that you can use to share with your friends and family.

As you can see, counseling is a very useful resource that can help families prevent violence as well as resolve issues once violence has occurred. However, many families do not utilize the counseling services available to them. This is why we love spreading the word during National Counseling Awareness Month (CAM). CAM is a time to celebrate the counseling profession and educate others about how counselors utilize clinical and therapeutic techniques to work through problems and enhance family relationships

If you or your family is experiencing violence, please contact a counseling program near you: Find Facilities.