This season is supposed to be a time of happy family get-togethers and holiday parties.
During the next few weeks, most residents will shop for presents, decorate their homes and anticipate Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties.
But some residents, especially the younger and more vulnerable children, won’t be excitedly dreaming about the holidays the next few weeks. They will instead be scared and anxious about what abuse they will experience at home at any moment.
Instead of being concerned with which ornament looks best at home, some Placer County youth will be concerned with whether they’ll be yelled at, hit or worse.
Every year, on average, 3,200 instances of child abuse are reported in Placer County, according to the nonprofit KidsFirst Counseling and Family Resource Centers organization. Founded 30 years ago in Roseville, KidsFirst’s mission is to treat and prevent child abuse and neglect through education, advocacy, and counseling for area residents.
The number of instances is even higher, according to the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, which reported the number of abused children in Placer County as 3,503.
Nearly 80,000 California children, or one out of eight children, are confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect, according to Children Now, a national research, policy and advocacy organization.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated, one in four children have experienced abuse or neglect and one in seven children experienced abuse or neglect in the past year.
Those numbers are frightening and unacceptable, as child abuse and neglect have severe consequences. By age 21, eight in 10 adults abused as children experience depression, anxiety, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress or other mental health challenges, according to Children Now.
Even more inexcusable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1,750 children died in the United States from abuse and neglect in 2016.
That child abuse and neglect should not happen is a given. But we can’t ignore that 80,000 California youth and specifically 3,503 Placer County youth are victims of this abuse. That’s not right and we owe it to our youth to reduce this number to 0.
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and families thrive when they have safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. A way to stop and/or prevent child abuse and neglect is by effective programs that support children and families. Improving family dynamics is key to ensuring that children have a chance at a happy and healthy childhood.
That’s where KidsFirst comes in.
KidsFirst works with city, Placer County and state agencies to protect children, while building healthier families in Placer County. All services are free and includes parenting classes, counseling, financial assistance, information and referral services.
KidsFirst funding is from the state’s Mental Health Services Act, grants, corporate donations, sponsorships and private donations. Residents can help KidsFirst help area children and families by volunteering or donating to the organization. To help, call 916-774-6802 or go online at kidsfirstnow.org.
And if you suspect child abuse or neglect, call 916-872-6549 or 866-293-1940, or if it’s an emergency, 9-1-1. That call might just save a child’s life and might improve their family’s dynamics.