Raising awareness of child abuse
Posted April 25, 2008

An estimated 906,000 children experience abuse and neglect – and 1,500 children die from it – every year in the United States, according to Child
Help, an organization for the prevention and treatment of child abuse.

To increase awareness of this disturbing fact, April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Nearly 85,000 children in California are separated from their parents due to abuse and neglect.

Many children wait months and even years for the opportunity to be adopted and have a new family.

“Our main goal is to provide children with safe and nurturing homes,” Marcia Morris, recruitment coordinator for the Children’s Bureau, a child abuse prevention organization in Southern California.

In the search for adoptive or foster parents, Morris explained that these parents had to provide enough space in their homes for a child, have the time to care for a child and have a sufficient income.

“We really look for people who really like children, have a sense of humor and have the time,” Morris said.

Today roughly 9,000 children in California are waiting to be adopted.

Locally, the David and Margaret Home, a group home for girls in La Verne, has served as a place of refuge for children since the year 1910.

Its staff assists children who are in the need of care, support , guidance or just someone to talk to.

David and Margaret provides a residential base service to teenage girls from the ages of 12 to 18.

“For the girls we promote independence, self-reliance, maturity and development,” Meghan Anderson, grant coordinator for the David and Margaret Home, said.

David and Margaret features individual, group and family therapy, recreational activities, a spiritual life program, a mentor program and other services to help the girls heal.

Many of the residents are victims of abuse, abandonment and neglect.

“We try to help (teenage girls) stop seeing themselves as victims,” Anderson said.

The David and Margaret Home also has a foster family agency that serves girls and boys from infancy to the age of 18.

They provide programs that are able to address their emotional, behavioral and educational needs.

Uncommon Good is a nonprofit organization that aids not only children who have been victims of abuse but children and teens in low-income families.

“This program is beneficial to any child,” Nancy Dufford, volunteer coordinator for Uncommon Good said.

They provide mentors and tutors to guide them to prepare them to go to college.

“Our program helps to break the cycle of poverty,” Dufford said.

Dufford explained that Uncommon Good has had a positive feed back from children evaluations and parent questionnaires.

The program gets a great deal of support from mentors, tutors, and parents, which will reinforce the idea that going to college is vital to success.

The negative effects of child abuse can cause school failure, drug and alcohol abuse, and criminality, physical and physiological problems.

April is the month of recognition for all the children who have been victims of abuse, and to promote healthy communication and nonviolent behavior toward children.

It began in the 1980s, when the U.S. Congress, recognizing the increasing rate of child abuse and neglect, assigned one week in June to be the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week.

Maxtla Benavides can be reached at mbenavides@ulv.edu

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