Fresno

Child abuse prevention month aims to improve children’s lives

This month, Kaiser Permantente Fresno’s staff placed blue pinwheels at each of their sites in Clovis, First Street and Selma to represent the number of children who have been abused in Fresno County. Pictured is Maria Elena Avila Toledo, clinical health educators out in Clovis.
This month, Kaiser Permantente Fresno’s staff placed blue pinwheels at each of their sites in Clovis, First Street and Selma to represent the number of children who have been abused in Fresno County. Pictured is Maria Elena Avila Toledo, clinical health educators out in Clovis. Special to Vida en el Valle

When people walk into the Clovis Medical Offices of Kaiser Permanente on Herndon Avenue, they can notice many blue pinwheels that are placed all over the entrance area. And depending of the wind that day, those pinwheels could be spinning around.

The blue pinwheels are there for a very specific reason – to raise awareness about Child abuse prevention.

This month, Kaiser Permanente Fresno’s staff placed blue pinwheels at each of their sites in Clovis, First Street, Selma and Oakhurst to represent the number of children who have been abused in Fresno County.

Child Abuse prevention pinwheels close up.jpg
This month, Kaiser Permantente Fresno’s staff placed blue pinwheels at each of their sites in Clovis, First Street and Selma to represent the number of children who have been abused in Fresno County. Kaiser Permanente Northern California Special to Vida en el Valle

“We are raising awareness for everyone,” said Kerri Leedy, PR and Media Relations for Kaiser Permanente Northern California of their efforts.

This is the second year Kaiser has displayed blue pinwheels at four pediatric department locations in its Fresno coverage area.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 1 in 7 children in the United States have experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the past year, and this is likely an underestimate.

The display at Kaiser’s sites, which can be pretty eye catching to all those visiting the sites, also includes posters and yard signs to educate people about Child Abuse Prevention Month, which is in April to improve the lives of children in the area.

Child Abuse prevention pinwheels Clovis Medical Offices.JPEG
This month, Kaiser Permantente Fresno’s staff placed blue pinwheels at each of their sites in Clovis, First Street and Selma to represent the number of children who have been abused in Fresno County. Kaiser Permanente Northern California Special to Vida en el Valle

Maria Elena Avila Toledo, clinical health educators out in Clovis said their direction is prevention and awareness.

“We have resources to support families if they are experiencing some kind of abuse,” Avila Toledo said, adding “this month of April we are educating providers, providing them with resources so they talk to families that might be in need of services.”

According to CDC, there were 683,000 victims of child abuse and neglect (CAN) reported to child protective services in 2015 in the country.

Avila Toledo said last year CPS received about 50,000 calls in Fresno County reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.

“We know child abuse affects all races, all incomes, all ages of children,” added Avila Toledo.

According to CDC, the youngest children are the most vulnerable with about 27.7 percent of reported victims being under the age of three.

“Why Kaiser focused on this? Is because research has shown a strong correlation between child abuse and subsequent adult diseases including diabetes, obesity, depression, hepatitis, alcoholism, heart disease, fractures and suicide,” said Avila Toledo.

CDC reports that Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are also forms of child abuse and neglect.

“We know that children who have been abuse are more likely to attempt suicide, use drugs, or alcohol or become abusers themselves,” Avila Toledo said.

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Kaiser Permanente Fresno is raising awareness about Child Abuse Prevention month. Kaiser Permanente Northern California Special to Vida en el Valle

She said on Thursday all staff at those pediatric locations would be wearing blue to bring awareness as well as resource tables will be available.

At the main hospital, Avila Toledo said resources were provided at the farmers market that is open to the community.

She said some of the signs of child abuse that provides look for is malnutrition, hygiene, unexplained bruises or injures or if the child appears to be frightened of parents or caregiver, extreme mood swings or changes of behavior.

Avila Toledo said part of prevention part to decrease child abuse in the community they offer parental support such as classes for stress management, counseling services available to parents and families.

“We want to promote selfcare for parents as well. We know parenting can be stressful,” she said, adding “sometimes it could be that we ourselves need a time out, so we need to seek out selfcare, coping mechanisms and they can talk to their provider about it, they can check out KP.org, we have lots of resources there. They can sign up for classes. The classes are free and available for our members.”

María G. Ortiz-Briones: 559-441-6782, @TuValleTuSalud

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