ANOTHER VOICE: Helping kids grow up healthy and safe

Throughout the year, Child Abuse Intervention Centers in Oregon play a critical role in making our state a place that prioritizes the health and safety of children. There are close to 70,000 reports of abuse and neglect each year in Oregon, and almost half of all victims of abuse are under the age of 6.

Over 6,200 children are served by Child Abuse Intervention Centers, which are designed to minimize trauma for children and provide services in a neutral, child-focused environment and as part of a multidisciplinary team of professionals.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Eradicating child abuse begins by building informed communities who are willing to talk openly about this difficult topic. There are many strategies to help combat the secrecy of child abuse. Here are a few:

n Participate in a local child abuse prevention event or activity.

n Understand the types of abuse and recognize the symptoms of abuse. Visit childabuseintervention.org for more information.

n Share what you learn with others.

n Educate your children in an age appropriate way about child abuse. If you’re not sure how, contact your child’s physician, teacher, or a local Child Abuse Intervention Center for tips.

n Have courage to report abuse when you suspect it. You could save a child’s life. If you suspect a child is being abused in Oregon, please contact your local child welfare office, or call 911.

Many Child Abuse Intervention Centers are participating in National Child Abuse Prevention Month with activities and events that highlight the importance of preventing and responding to child abuse. For a list of activities or to locate a center visit childabuseintervention.org.

“This month is a great opportunity to recognize the important work that Child Abuse Intervention Centers are doing to protect and help heal children,” said Shelly Smith, board chair of KIDS Center in Bend and board chair of the Oregon Network of Child Abuse Intervention Centers. “We hope that Oregonians will take time to learn about child abuse prevention strategies by visiting our website, or participating in an event or activity in their local community.”

The Oregon Network of Child Abuse Intervention Centers is a nonprofit organization, and Accredited State Chapter of the National Children’s Alliance, comprised of member centers throughout the state of Oregon. It is our mission to provide a collaborative network of Child Abuse Intervention Centers working together to ensure quality, comprehensive services to provide Oregon’s children with the best possible opportunity to grow up healthy and safe.

The Columbia Gorge Children’s Advocacy Center in Hood River is a member of the Oregon Network of Child Abuse Intervention. During the month of April, in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, we are asking community members to wear blue ribbons to support child abuse prevention in our community and all across the country.

To learn more call 541-436-2960, or visit cgcac.org.

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Debi Baskins is executive director of Columbia Gorge Children’s Advocacy Center.

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