April was first declared Child Abuse Prevention Month by presidential proclamation in 1983. Six years later, the Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse began with one blue ribbon tied by a Virginia woman to her car’s antenna in memory of her grandson who died from the abuse he suffered. The Campaign spread across the United States and now focuses on the positive message of supporting families and strengthening communities to prevent child abuse and neglect. The Guilds Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Center at Children's Hospital Central California works to decrease the incidence of child abuse and neglect not only during the month of April, but 365 days a year.
“I think child abuse awareness should be emphasized every day,” said Dr. Philip Hyden, medical director of the Center. “Public awareness enables people to really focus on it. It can be talked about. It doesn’t have to be a family secret.”
Dr. Hyden takes every opportunity to spread awareness and support a safe environment for children – even at the grocery store, movies or mall. “When I see a parent visibly upset with a child, depending on the circumstances, I will go up to the parent and ask if I can be of any help,” he said. “They may need a break. It doesn’t help to get angry with them or tell them to calm down. We just need to offer to give them a hand.”
The mission of the Guilds Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Center is to provide comprehensive services to children and their families through a multidisciplinary, child-friendly program that meets the physical and emotional needs of children with suspected abuse or neglect. Last year, the Center evaluated 105 Children’s Hospital inpatients who may have been abused and managed 927 outpatient visits, a greater than 38 percent increase over the previous year. This growth means more of our most vulnerable children are receiving expert diagnostic, forensic and therapeutic evaluations and treatment.
In addition to treating clinic visitors and inpatients at Children’s Hospital, the Center works to protect children from harm by providing assessment, consultation, education and outreach to assist in supporting a safe and secure environment. The Center made 3,996 educational contacts while providing over 100 hours of service last year through classroom education and public events.
If you suspect child abuse, report it to your local child protective services or call 2-1-1 for additional resources. The Guilds Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Center can be reached by calling (559)353-6022.
If you would like to contribute to The Guilds Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Endowment, contact the Foundation at (559)353-7100 or Foundation@ChildrensCentralCal.org