Child abuse declines in Kern
Bakersfield College Child Development Training staff members Diana Sousa and Vienna Battisone were two of approximately 40 vendors that had information booths at the Kern County Network for Children's "Call to Action" Conference.
KCNC Research Associate Cheryl Holsonbake who compiled the figures, introduced them to the public in a booklet called “Report Card 2005.”
“This is a summary of how children are doing in Kern County, and every year we have the same hope, that it will be a ‘Call to Action’ in your own life and your own agency,” Holsonbake said. “Our goal is for safety, stability, well-being and life long, enduring family relationships. Poverty, health and education are among many factors related to child abuse. That is why this report looks at the risk factors.”
As Holsonbake spoke, the audience viewed the information contained in the “Report Card” projected on a large overhead screen. Among the statistics that stood out: one-in-four children in Kern County lives in poverty, and teen pregnancy rates are the fifth highest in California. Positive statistics showed juvenile crime rates in the county have fallen 36 percent since 1996 and infant mortality dropped to a rate of 5.6 per 1,000, the lowest in many years.
“A report by the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund concluded that for every dollar invested on prevention and high quality intervention $20 is saved in the cost of child abuse,” Holsonbake said.
The report card also contains the names and work done by many county agencies to improve the condition of children, as well as KCNC’s 21 Community Collaboratives that bring families, local businesses and agencies together to solve problems.
KCNC President Vernon Valenzuela, a Vietnam War veteran, told the audience the first Call to Action he could remember was in Arvin over the execution-style slaying of an Arvin High football player several years ago.
“I remembered thinking at the time, ‘violence happens in all our communities daily but people weren’t getting outraged like they were over this tragedy,’” Valenzuela said. “Many people react the only way they know how. Studies have shown that people who love each other will never intentionally do anything to hurt each other, unless they are mad or hurt. Change happens a little step at a time. If we unite behind a cause, we will fix it.”
Although Tom Corson has been involved with community collaboratives for years, this was the first Call to Action conference he has presided over since becoming KCNC director this fiscal year.
“Reduction in substantiated child abuse cases is great news, and the credit has to go to the collaboratives and other agencies who work very hard to make sure children are safe,” Corson said. “Sadly, the problem could be back if over $2 million in state budget cuts for child abuse prevention and intervention programs take place next year. We need to make sure the present programs don’t get cut but strengthened, instead. Since 1992, when the network was born, change has happened because of the grass roots efforts of communities who felt pain but joined together to find solutions. Second and third generations are involved now, but success can’t be achieved without your continued help and support.”
Print This Page Email This Page