15 Nov Published in The Courier Journal: Keeping Kentucky children safe from harm
Kosair Charities has helped vulnerable children for more than 90 years.
We protect the health and well-being of children in Kentucky and Southern Indiana by providing support for clinical services, research, pediatric health care education, and child advocacy.
In 2012, we decided to more actively address an issue that is sometimes tough to talk about but a tragic reality for many children: child abuse and neglect.
KIDS COUNT data show that nearly 18,000 children in Kentucky and nearly 3,000 in Jefferson County are abused or neglected in a given year. Kosair Charities believes that one victim of child abuse is one too many.
That is why we joined with Kentucky Youth Advocates to start the Face It Movement to end child abuse and neglect.
It takes everyone, including you and me, to be the face that ends child abuse and neglect. We must stop the abuse and neglect that is occurring and prevent it from happening in the first place.
The Face It coalition has more than 20 partner organizations working together to end abuse and neglect by working in multiple arenas from raising awareness, strengthening families, and ensuring professionals who interact with children are equipped to recognize, report, and respond to child abuse and neglect. Face It was instrumental in the passage of Senate Bill 119 in the 2015 Kentucky General Assembly to ensure all public school educators receive training on the signs of child abuse and neglect. We also worked to ensure doctors received vital training on child abuse recognition.
We have made progress. Yet we have a long way to go until all children are safe from abuse and neglect. Many solutions exist to help promote safe and supportive communities. For example, we can allow pediatric nurses who are specially trained in sexual assault to treat young children when they come into the emergency room for sexual abuse. These nurses, called SANE nurses, are equipped to provide the best care possible to children in the midst of trauma.
We need to ensure school systems check the child abuse and neglect registry, in addition to conducting a criminal background check, before hiring staff and at regular intervals after hire. This common sense measure will help ensure children are safe from abuse while at school.
We need to support parents in the tough job of raising children. Encouraging first-time parents to enroll in the HANDS home visiting program is a proven way to strengthen parenting skills and prevent child abuse.
Kosair Charities is working with Face It not only to intervene when children are being harmed by abuse but also to prevent that abuse from ever occurring. It is a long road and will take many years. But that is exactly our commitment to create safe and thriving communities. We can work together to ensure children are safe and protected.
Everyone in the community can help end child abuse and neglect. You can talk to your kids, friends and family. Visit faceitabuse.org to learn the signs of and how to report child abuse and neglect.
One child victim is one too many, and you can help. Let us face it and end it, together.
Randy Coe is president of Kosair Charities.