- Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
Every April, the Napa County Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC) commemorates Child Abuse Prevention Month by bringing awareness to this important issue and raising funds to help keep children safe. Led by Cope Family Center and comprised of representatives from nonprofit organizations, the faith-based community, and law enforcement and government agencies, CAPC coordinates Napa County’s efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect.
Each year, CAPC reports on the state of the health and wellbeing of Napa County’s children and families. In 2019, Child Welfare Services received 1,689 reports of abuse or neglect of which 156 cases involving 242 children were substantiated. The names of those victims will be read aloud by CAPC and community members in a video and shared on social media to bring awareness to the scope of the issue in our community. To protect their identities, the children’s real names will be substituted with Jane Doe and John Doe.
“To the public, they are only known as Janes and Johns, but they are real children in our community,” said Lalo Mendez, CAPC Coordinator. “They are real children who experienced trauma that will shape the rest of their lives. We want the community to know that behind every Jane Doe and John Doe is a story of abuse – but also an opportunity for those surrounding the child to help them heal, through building hope and resiliency.”
“Every parent struggles at some point, regardless of their background, socioeconomic status or ethnicity,” said Michele Grupe, CAPC Co-Chair and Cope Executive Director.
“Many parents in our community face additional challenges that make it even more difficult to raise happy, healthy and thriving children. Factors such as intimate partner violence, substance use, and mental health issues can increase the risk of abuse.”
During times of crisis, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, families experience significant stress. Children are home from school. Working parents have had their hours cut or even been laid off for the foreseeable future. Uncertainty, fear and anxiety are taking a toll.
“We know from recent disasters that when families struggle, children suffer,” said Grupe. “We saw an alarming increase in child abuse rates following the 2017 fires because of the emotional and financial stress it put on families. This pandemic will likely impact struggling families in the same way, once again putting children at a higher risk for maltreatment.”
The good news is that we all have the power to help prevent child abuse and help survivors heal from the trauma so they can build resilience and break the cycle of abuse. “The best way to prevent child abuse is to provide support to struggling parents so they can get through difficult times without negatively impacting their children,” said Cope Program Director Julie Murphy. “Cope does this work every day. But everyone can play a role in keeping children safe.”
Blue Ribbon Month is an opportunity to take a closer look at child abuse, including learning about the kinds of abuse and neglect that happen in our community; recognizing the risk factors and warning signs; understanding the lifelong impact on children, families and community; and finding out how we can each take small actions that make a big difference.
Though the in-person Blue Ribbon Month activities have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health directives, there are still many opportunities throughout April to get involved. Visit copefamilycenter.org/blueribbon to learn more.
Cope also encourages the community to demonstrate their commitment to keeping children safe by making a contribution of any amount to support Cope’s child abuse prevention and family support programs. “Managing the financial, mental and emotional stress of the crisis can be overwhelming for parents,” said Grupe. “Your donation will ensure the Cope can continue to be the support system for so many families who need us now more than ever.”
We can all play a role in preventing child abuse “When all members of the community work together as a whole, families feel supported and are better able to nurture and care for their children,” said Grupe. “Especially in times of crisis like this, it is so important that we support the most vulnerable in our community. Together we can keep children safe.”
To learn more about the Blue Ribbon Month activities and how you can help keep children safe year round, visit copefamilycenter.org/blueribbon or call Cope at 252-1123.
I AM JANE DOE.
Jane is one of over 1,600 kids reported abused or neglected in Napa County last year.
Child abuse and neglect can have life-long consequences on the survivors, impacting physical, mental, and behavioral health. For example:
• 80% of 21-year olds who reported childhood abuse met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder
• Abused children are 59% more likely to be arrested as juveniles
• Frequent abuse by a parent can increase a child’s cancer risk in adulthood
• Adolescent victims of abuse are more than 200% more likely to be unemployed as adults and more likely to receive public assistance
• 51% of adults who were abused as children experienced domestic abuse later in life
Imagine if Jane never had to experience abuse or neglect in the first place. Imagine if no child did.
You Can Make a Difference
• Support nonprofits that work to strengthen families and reduce the risk of abuse and neglect. Donate, volunteer and spread the word.
• Advocate for policies and legislation that help improve the lives of children and families.
• Help build a network of emotionally supportive friends, family and neighbors for parents in the community.
• Learn more about the issue of child abuse and neglect and how you can prevent and heal childhood adversity, trauma and toxic stress.
• If you suspect a child is being mistreated, take immediate action. In Napa County, call 707.253.4261 to report suspected abuse or neglect.