Douglas County Child Abuse Coalition
Anger is Normal; Violence is Not
It’s no secret that child abuse happens in Douglas County. To change that, Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Foundation, working in concert with over 30 Douglas County community partner agencies and organizations, formed the Child Abuse Prevention Coalition in July 2010. Our shared vision is to develop a child abuse and neglect prevention initiative that will ultimately address all six levels of the Spectrum of Prevention.
Through a community needs assessment, the Child Abuse Prevention Coalition has identified the following goals that guide our work:
- Increase the safety of children in families and social environments
- Increase community capacity to prevent child abuse and maltreatment
- Increase institutional capacity to prevent child abuse and maltreatment
- Act to change societal factors that condone, perpetuate or mediate child abuse and maltreatment
Since July, 2010, we have worked to increase the understanding of Douglas County communities of the importance of child abuse prevention. A needs assessment was completed to identify current child sexual and physical, emotional, and verbal abuse prevention activities and unmet needs through stakeholder focus groups, community forums, and coalition meetings. Additionally, the Child Abuse Prevention Coalition has:
- Funded and organized training to six local nurses and two mid-level practitioners to become Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), which ensures timely, compassionate examinations and accurate forensic evidence collection for assault victims whereas at the time of implementing our coalition, there was one SANE for all of Douglas County.
- Assisted Mercy Foundation’s Healthy Kids Outreach Program in adopting the Strong Kids and Strong Teens curricula to be taught in 12 Douglas County rural school districts through its Health Educators. The curriculum builds skills in children and youth for healthy relationships, resiliency, empathy, and violence prevention.
- Raised funds and oversaw the redesign of a Mercy Medical Center’s Emergency Department exam room into a child-friendly environment to lessen the trauma of childhood abuse victims.
- Requested and received funding from Mercy Foundation’s Tree of Hope Fund for five cameras for the Douglas County Multi-Disciplinary Team to make available timely, accurate forensic data in child abuse cases to strengthen court cases.
- Instituted the Period of Purple Crying Program at Mercy Medical Center’s Family Birthplace. The Period of Purple Crying is an evidence-based program which educates new parents about normal infant crying, how to cope with this crying, and the dangers of reacting in frustration with a baby’s crying by shaking a child.
- Utilizing the youth voice in community awareness, the coalition has launched a youth-generated social media project, UP2US. Through the project, teens ages 13-18 have the opportunity to be mentored in violence prevention concepts and in technical media production by media professionals. The project will culminate in a competition for YouTube views. For more information, go to www.UP2USNOW.org. (View UP2USNOW PSA)
- Engaged law enforcement and social service organizations in formulating a plan to identify high-risk individuals and families in order to make prevention services available before the crisis of child abuse occurs.
By coming together, the Child Abuse Prevention Coalition has the ability to address broad goals for a greater community impact; the impact of eliminating child abuse in Douglas County.
Remember, it is our responsibility to have courage, compassion, and community. By having healthier children, we have a healthier community.