Category Archives: Teaching Children

OK Seeing Less Severe Abuse While CA, Neglect Increasing

.jpg photo of children receiving child abuse prevention training
Students at Parkview Elementary in the Mid-Del School District roar during a child prevention lesson put on by The Care Center on Sept. 17.

The Good, the Bad and the Puzzling in
Child Maltreatment Counts

Each year, the Oklahoma agency that tracks and investigates abuse and neglect of children issues a detailed statistical report.

Buried in all of the numbers is what appears to be a hopeful trend.

During the past six years, the number of child abuse cases – the most severe form of child maltreatment – has plummeted by more than 50 percent, to 1,407 last year.

At the same time, another measure of how Oklahoma treats its children has risen to alarming levels.  During the same period, the number of substantiated cases of child neglect has tripled, to 13,394.  That drove an overall 18% increase in the number of cases of abuse, neglect or both since fiscal year 2012, a data analysis by Oklahoma Watch found.

But why would neglect soar and abuse plummet?

Human Services Department officials say they don’t know why, except mainly to suggest that when it comes to child neglect, citizens and professionals who deal with children have become better educated about recognizing the problem, which is defined more broadly than abuse, and are more inclined to report suspected cases.

No one at DHS or among child advocacy groups seems to be celebrating.  Some advocates question whether the statistics are accurate and, as they did at a recent legislative hearing, continue to push for more funding to prevent and respond to both abuse and neglect.

“Why overall it (abuse) keeps going down, I don’t know,” said Debi Knecht, DHS deputy director of child welfare programs.  “I would like to think society just evolves and stops abusing kids, but I don’t know why that is just in one particular area.”

Among the thousands of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect each year, a large majority involve only neglect.  In fiscal 2018, neglect cases made up 86% of the total 15,591 cases, compared with 9% for abuse and 7% for both abuse and neglect.

The most common types of abuse are a threat of harm, such as a child who is in danger of abuse because of their proximity to physical violence; beating or hitting by hand, and beating or hitting with an instrument.

The most common types of neglect are threat of harm, which is when a child faces a direct threat from their environment, such as a home where drug use is present; exposure to domestic violence, and failure to protect a child.

Knecht credits most of the increase in cases of child neglect to statewide efforts to teach law enforcement, teachers and others who work with kids how to recognize and report the problem.  Education drives up the number of reports that come into the agency, which leads to more substantiated reports, she said.

.jpg photo of children receiving child abuse prevention training
Shelby Lynch, education manager at The Care Center, asks students to raise their hands if they know three adults they can talk to “no matter what.” The question is part of a child abuse prevention training called Roar.

Knecht said the opioid epidemic and popularity of methamphetamine have also contributed to growing reports of neglect that involve substance abuse.

Knecht said the increase in neglect cases also could mean the agency is taking action earlier and thus preventing physical abuse.  Another contributing factor could be a cultural shift that has caused fewer parents to spank their children, she said.

But Knecht acknowledged it is difficult on the surface to reconcile the divergent trends.  An increase in reporting would more likely point to an increase in substantiated abuse, not a decrease, as it did with neglect cases, she said.

Child advocates question the accuracy of the data, saying the number of child abuse cases they see has remained steady or even increased over the past several years.

Dr. Ryan Brown, a child-abuse pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, said he has seen more cases of child abuse in recent years, not fewer.

“No matter what the DHS numbers say, those physical abuse numbers are not going down,” Brown said.

National reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also show an increase in children suffering from abuse and neglect combined.

Mary Abbott Children’s House conducts forensic interviews of children ages 3 to 18 for criminal investigations in Cleveland, Garvin and McClain counties and surrounding areas.  Interviewer Christi Cornett said the organization interviews around 480 children per year, and that number has remained steady since at least 2013.

Joe Dorman, CEO of the the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, and Nellie Kelly, executive director of the Child Protection Coalition, said the reported drop in child abuse cases contradicts what they see every day.

“I want to believe we’re getting better, but I find it hard to believe,” Dorman said.

Reporting Abuse and Neglect:  All Oklahomans 18 or older are required to report child abuse or neglect.  Reports can be made 24 hours a day, any day, to the state Department of Human Services at 1-800-522-3511.

NY Gov Dragging Feet Signing Legislation?

.jpg photo of girl legislation is named for
Erin Merryn

Child Sex Abuse victim advocates want
to know why Cuomo hasn’t signed
Erin’s Law

ALBANY, NY  –  Advocates for child sex abuse victims say Gov. Andrew Cuomo is dragging his feet on signing education legislation that could decrease future child sex abuse cases.

“Erin’s Law” requires at least one hour per school year to teach kids in kindergarten through eighth grade about abuse and how to report it.

A 2015 federal law championed by U.S. Senator Kirstan Gillibrand (D-NY) provides grant funding for the program.

It’s been passed in 37 states, including New York, when the bill cleared both legislative chambers on June 20.

“I don’t know what’s going on in New York.  It’s frustrating because I flew to New York and testified in 2011.  It’s been the most difficult state to get it passed.  Now we have to wait yet another year,” Erin Merryn, an abuse survivor from Illinois, for whom the legislation is named, told The Post.

Under the law, the state Education Department would be required to devise the curriculum, but a spokesman said the department does not comment on pending legislation.

“They made me repeat first grade because of what nobody knew was going on,” Merryn added.

“You’re actually saving money by teaching this because those kids that are being abused are the kids that you’re having to pour so much more funding into.”

“It’s important that [Gov. Cuomo] does this sooner than later, even though we’ve missed this year’s deadline, this is crucial for the children of the state of New York,” she said.

“Erin’s law actually prevents child abuse in a big way,” said child sex abuse survivor Gary Greenberg, who has pushed the bill for years.

“[It] is an even more important law than the Child Victims Act because it will actually go into every public school in the state and teach kids who to report to, and about appropriate touching.  As time goes on he’s signing all these bills, a lot of bills, and no Erin’s law,” he said of Gov. Cuomo.

The law would take effect on the July 1 after the bill is signed.

“We 100 percent agree with the intent of the bill and want to ensure it’s implemented correctly.  The bill language remains under review by counsel’s office,” said Cuomo spokeswoman Caitlin Girouard.

The state’s office of Children and Family Services said in 2018, the statewide central register hotline received 297,233 calls related to child abuse cases resulting in 199,047 reports flagged for further action.

Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
Never shake a Baby for any reason, nor raise your voice to one.

SBS/AHT is the leading cause of physical
Child Abuse in the U. S.

OVERVIEW

Shaken baby syndrome — also known as abusive head trauma, shaken impact syndrome, inflicted head injury or whiplash shake syndrome — is a serious brain injury resulting from forcefully shaking an infant or toddler.

Shaken baby syndrome destroys a child’s brain cells and prevents his or her brain from getting enough oxygen.  Shaken baby syndrome is a form of child abuse that can result in permanent brain damage or death.

Shaken baby syndrome is preventable.  Help is available for parents who are at risk of harming a child.  Parents also can educate other caregivers about the dangers of shaken baby syndrome.

SYMPTOMS

Shaken baby syndrome symptoms and signs include:

  • Extreme fussiness or irritability
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Breathing problems
  • Poor eating
  • Vomiting
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Coma

You may not see any signs of physical injury to the child’s outer body.  Sometimes, the face is bruised.  Injuries that might not be immediately seen include bleeding in the brain and eyes, spinal cord damage, and fractures of the ribs, skull, legs and other bones.  Many children with shaken baby syndrome show signs and symptoms of prior child abuse.

In mild cases of shaken baby syndrome, a child may appear normal after being shaken, but over time he or she may develop health or behavioral problems.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

Seek immediate help if you suspect your child has been injured by violent shaking. Contact your child’s doctor or take your child to the nearest emergency room. Getting medical care right away may save your child’s life or prevent serious health problems.

Health care professionals are legally required to report all suspected cases of child abuse to state authorities.

CAUSES

Babies have weak neck muscles and often struggle to support their heavy heads.  If a baby is forcefully shaken, his or her fragile brain moves back and forth inside the skull.  This causes bruising, swelling and bleeding.

Shaken baby syndrome usually occurs when a parent or caregiver severely shakes a baby or toddler due to frustration or anger — often because the child won’t stop crying.

Shaken baby syndrome isn’t usually caused by bouncing a child on your knee, minor falls or even rough play.

RISK FACTORS

The following things may make parents or caregivers more likely to forcefully shake a baby and cause shaken baby syndrome:

  • Unrealistic expectations of babies
  • Young or single parenthood
  • Stress
  • Domestic violence
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Unstable family situations
    Depression
  • A history of mistreatment as a child

Also, men are more likely to cause shaken baby syndrome than are women.

COMPLICATIONS

Even brief shaking of an infant can cause irreversible brain damage.  Many children affected by shaken baby syndrome die.

Survivors of shaken baby syndrome may require lifelong medical care for conditions such as:

  • Partial or total blindness
  • Developmental delays, learning problems or behavior issues
  • Intellectual disability
  • Seizure disorders
  • Cerebral palsy

PREVENTION

New parent education classes can help parents better understand the dangers of violent shaking and may provide tips to soothe a crying baby and manage stress.

When your crying baby can’t be calmed, you may be tempted to try anything to get the tears to stop — but it’s important to always treat your child gently.  Nothing justifies shaking a child.

If you’re having trouble managing your emotions or the stress of parenthood, seek help.  Your child’s doctor may offer a referral to a counselor or other mental health provider.

If other people help take care of your child — whether a hired caregiver, sibling or grandparent — make sure they know the dangers of shaken baby syndrome.

Source:  Mayo Clinic Staff
https://www.mayoclinic.org

The Empty Chair At The Table

.jpg photo of Arlington National Cemetery where so many are buried that gave their lives for this country
Arlington National Cemetery, where so many are buried that gave their lives for Our Country.

We will never forget

.jpg photo of red poppies to honor those who died trying to protect our country
In the U.S., people wear the red poppy on Memorial Day to honor those who died trying to protect Our Country.

This is for all those that answered the Call of Duty for Our Great Country, America the Beautiful, the Home of the Brave and the Free, who gave all and didn’t get the chance to bring up their children, or grow old with their spouses, or have careers.

The flag shouldn’t stay at half-staff all day

.jpg photo of our flag as we honor the many that gave their lives trying to defend our country
Today we honor the many people that have given their lives defending Our Country.

Federal guidelines say the flag should be displayed at half-staff only until noon, then go up to full-staff until sundown.

A Strong Successful Family

.jpg photo of a good, happy family graphic
Good caring parents teach by example, always remembering that genuine praise, guidance, and understanding are the mark of a good parent.

Building & Maintaining A Good Family

Building a Good Family

There are basic qualities and values needed to have and maintain a good family.   These qualities and values are:

  • Love
  • Honor, always truth and loyalty
  • Mutual Respect
  • Kindness
  • Communication
  • Consideration
  • Duty
  • Responsibility

The Future of this world

Children are the future of this world.  As a good parent it is your responsibility to teach your children from birth, the above qualities and values, as these are handed down from generation-to-generation, and prepares them to be good family members, good friends, good neighbors, good employees, good leaders, and good citizens.

Good caring parents teach by example, always remembering that genuine praise, guidance, and understanding are the mark of a good parent.  As your child grows, regular family quality time strengthens trust and mutual respect, forging a stronger family bond, where communication grows easier, and good memories are more easily made.

Maintaining A Good Family

The five “L’s” of a good, strong, family:

  1. Love is at the heart of the family.  All humans have the need to love and to be loved; the family is normally the place where love is expressed.  Love is the close personal blending of physical and mental togetherness.  It includes privacy, intimacy, sharing, belonging, and caring.  The atmosphere of real love is one of honesty, understanding, patience, and forgiveness.  Such love does not happen automatically; it requires constant daily effort by each family member.  Loving families share activities and express a great deal of gratitude for one another. Love takes time, affection, and a positive attitude.
  2. Learning – Families are where we learn values, skills, and behavior.  Strong families manage and control their learning experiences.  They establish a pattern of home life.  They select appropriate television programs.  They guide their children into the world outside the home.  They do not let social forces rule their family life.  They involve themselves in neighborhood, school, government, church, and business in ways that support their family values.  Strong families teach by example and learn through experience as they explain and execute their values.
  3. Loyalty – Strong families have a sense of loyalty and devotion toward family members.  The family sticks together.  They stand by each other during times of trouble.  They stand up for each other when attacked by someone outside the family.  Loyalty builds through sickness and health, want and good fortune, failure and success, and all the things the family faces.  The family is a place of shelter for individual family members.  In times of personal success or defeat, the family becomes a cheering section or a mourning bench.  They also learn a sense of give and take in the family, which helps prepare them for the necessary negotiations in other relationships.
  4. Laughter is good family medicine.  Humor is an escape valve for family tension. Through laughter we learn to see ourselves honestly and objectively.  Building a strong family is serious business, but if taken too seriously, family life can become very tense.  Laughter balances our efforts and gives us a realistic view of things.  To be helpful, family laughter must be positive in nature.  Laughing together builds up a family.  Laughing at each other divides a family.  Families that learn to use laughter in a positive way can release tensions, gain a clearer view, and bond relationships.
  5. Leadership is essential.  Family members, usually the adults, must assume responsibility for leading the family.  If no one accepts this vital role, the family will weaken.  Each family needs its own special set of rules and guidelines.  These rules are based on the family members’ greatest understanding of one another. The guidelines pass along from the adults to the children by example, with firmness and fairness.  Strong families can work together to establish their way of life, allowing children to have a voice in decision making and enforcing rules. However, in the initial stages and in times of crisis, adult family members must get the family to work together.