When I was in college, I worked in an emergency room.
As you can imagine, death was a regular occurrence. After someone died, and the family said goodbye, security would cover the body, and push the gurney to the morgue.
It was a somber ritual to be sure, but it hardly compared to the grief all of us felt when a child died. I still remember the burliest of our security guards walking into a room where a tiny body lay still on the mattress. He swaddled the boy in a blanket and cradled him in his arms, rocking him slightly. As he turned toward the morgue, with his little bundle, you could see the tears running down his face.
We all felt hollow. I've felt similarly every time I hear of yet another kid dying at the hands of their parents. In 2011, we lost 10 kids to abuse in El Paso County alone. But the good news is that those numbers are shrinking. Last year, thanks to a lot of outreach, we lost three.
Of course, it's still three too many.
Child Fatalities Due to Abuse or Neglect Decrease in El Paso County
April 4, 2013 — Today, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners declared April Child Abuse Prevention Month in El Paso County. In 2011, there were 10 child fatalities due to abuse and/or neglect in El Paso County. Due to these alarming numbers Commissioner Sallie Clark and District Attorney Dan May started the Not One More Child Coalition (NOMC) bringing together more than 140 representatives from more than 47 organizations all with the goal of not seeing one more child in El Paso County die due to abuse or neglect. In just one year of work, the number of children who died as a result of abuse or neglect in El Paso County decreased from ten in one year to three, which is the lowest number since 2007.
“Three children killed is still too many and means we have a lot more work ahead of us,” said Commissioner Sallie Clark. “But we have made tremendous progress in just a little more than a year and are thankful to all the community members who have stepped up to protect our littlest citizens.”
Through the Not One More Child Coalition now all First Responders in El Paso County will be specially trained in how to identify abuse and neglect and what they can do if they suspect a child is not safe. Each hospital in El Paso County now has bedside education for parents so every parent who has a baby in El Paso County will be trained on what to do if their baby is crying, who they can reach out to if they’re frustrated and will have signed a contract saying they know that shaking, tossing or hitting a child even one time can kill or injure a child. Our local 2-1-1 hotline has resources for parents and an additional national hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD) with trained counselors 24 hours a day seven days a week has been advertised throughout the community. 1,000 waiting rooms throughout the county will have the opportunity to show a positive parenting video on a continuous loop as people wait for the service being offered at the establishment. The faith-based community in El Paso County is now being educated on and actively participating in child abuse prevention. We have data on what populations are most at risk for abuse and neglect and a template to continue to collect more useful data. The military is a strong partner in this effort and is requiring all of their parents to be properly educated, and are able to reach out to young military families with extra resources and education.
“Child homicides are preventable,” said District Attorney Dan May. “We are working to not only educate the community on the resources available for parents, but also to know that reporting suspected child abuse or neglect is vital to protecting our children.” If you suspect child abuse or neglect please call the Department of Human Services at (719) 444-5700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are a few ways the community can help:
•Become a member of the Not One More Child Coalition
•Show the 30 minute positive parenting DVD in your waiting room
•Have someone from the coalition talk to your organization about how to prevent child abuse and neglect
•Help fund NOMC projects like airtime and production of public service announcements, education for physicians and the printing of informational cards
•Encourage parents in need of support to call 1-800-4-A-CHILD for assistance
For more information on the Not One More Coalition please visit http://dhs.elpasoco.com/Pages/NotOneMoreChild.aspx or contact Jennifer Brown at email@example.com or (719) 238-4478.