National Child Abuse Prevention Month Guest Blog by Senator Ashby‍

April 18, 2023

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Guest Blog by Senator Ashby

The month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. California’s children deserve to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment, where they are free from abuse and neglect, and are able to thrive. Far too many children in California (72,000 annually) are victims of abuse, and finding ways to support and prevent child abuse is imperative.  

In the U.S., there are an average of 600,000 children who are reported to be abused annually, and many children who have suffered abuse go on to experience long-term mental and physical health problems, known as ACEs(Adverse Childhood Experiences.) ACEs are potentially traumatic events that occur in an individual’s life before they are 18 years of age. ACEs fall into three categories: abuse, neglect, and extreme household challenges.

The impacts of these ACEs can cause depression, asthma, cancer and diabetes in adulthood, children who experience them are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as smoking and heavy drinking and can also impact education and employment potential.

There is research showing that focusing on community based prevention services which are family and culturally centered, can reduce and prevent child abuse. Checking in and offering a hand to friends, neighbors and relatives is one such way to prevent child abuse. Libraries, community leaders, and schools often offer services that help meet the needs of families and children. By utilizing these resources, we can reduce and prevent child abuse.

I opened a consulting firm in 2004, with my late father, who led foster care for the State of California and was the Child Welfare Director in San Diego County. Our work focused on how to help large agencies implement programs to help serve populations who face extraordinary barriers to success, such as foster youth, transition age youth and children in the child welfare system.

The well-being of children, especially those who have suffered abuse and neglect, was at the forefront of mind this year when I put my bill package together. Children who have been abused or neglected have a higher risk of developing health problems as adults, and as children, are more likely to require special education services and be arrested.

The costs of obtaining a college degree for many students seems out of reach, but for foster youth—many who suffered abuse and neglect as children—the costs of higher education can be entirely prohibitive. I’ve introduced legislation which will provide resources so that foster youth can attend college, without crippling debt. Helping foster youth by alleviating their education costs, will help provide a future and a way for children who have been neglected or abused to break the cycle of abuse

This year, I’m working on a bill which builds on my colleague’s work to keep children who have been removed from an abusive situation connected with their community—by ensuring that individuals who are willing and fit to care for those children are not excluded because they do not fit within the legal definition of “relative.” It’s essential to the child’s safety, stability and well-being to ensure that loved ones can foster a child in their time of need.

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, it’s the time to reaffirm our commitment to preventing child abuse and neglect, and to find ways to ensure California’s children can grow up in a safe and nurturing environment.  

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