The following story I am posting is a story I wrote for Crisis Nursery’s 2009 Spring Newsletter.  I believe that this is the best newsletter I’ve written to date.  Unfortunately, our Spring Newsletter is not our most read newsletter.  Our holiday newsletter is a lot more received, but nonetheless, I love it.  I’m not posting it to “toot my own horn” (okay maybe a little) but it brings me an issue that I think about a lot.  So read on and then I will explain.

Every community across the nation has heard horrific stories of child abuse and neglect…

A 14 year-old girl stops at the school nurse’s office complaining of stomach pains. The nurse notices the teen had put on some weight but would never have guessed she was pregnant. After a few minutes, the girl tells the nurse she is feeling better and leaves her office. A short distance away, she gives birth, panics and places the healthy baby in a wastebasket. Authorities find the baby, immediately take it into custody and the teenager now faces child abuse charges.

An unconscious 2 year old boy is rushed to the emergency room by his mother and her boyfriend.  The toddler’s intestines were ruptured due to blunt force trauma. His arm was also broken, and he had numerous bruises, scratches on his back and burns on his hands. The boyfriend was watching the little boy while his mom was at work. He later told authorities he punched the child because he would not stop crying.

A 38 year-old mother rolled over her vehicle and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. She initially told authorities that her two children may be in the car. When her children were no where to be found, police were then sent to her apartment.  They found her 4 year old and 7 month-old baby asleep and unattended.  The mother is facing two counts of child abuse.

These are not just stories, these are real situations that happened to children and families right here in our community just last year. The first incident occurred at Osborn Middle School in Phoenix. Fernando is the name of the 2-year old Phoenix boy taken to the hospital. And Heather is the name of the 38 year old Scottsdale mother now facing child abuse charges. These are just three of the hundreds of substantiated abuse and neglect cases that happened throughout Maricopa County last year. 

Physical, psychological and behavioral consequences of child abuse and neglect impact not just the child and family, but the community as a whole.  Everyone has to live with the effects of this epidemic; however, child abuse and neglect is not solely the responsibility of the family. As a community, we need to raise awareness of these issues and work
together to develop a healthy community for all.

For over 31 years, Crisis Nursery has worked to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect in Maricopa County. Our programs offer a safe and nurturing environment for children and provide families with the help, support and encouragement they need to overcome issues that put their children at risk for abuse, neglect or homelessness. We know that we cannot do it alone. It takes the combined effort of all the stakeholders in our community.

This issue of Nursery Tales is dedicated to raising awareness of the challenges that affect our community and how we must come together to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect.

Please take a look at the whole issue.  Go to http://www.crisisnurseryphx.org/nursery/uploads/pdf/NurseryTales/newsletter-vol_17_2009_04_08.pdf

Community extends far beyond people living in a common area.  Community for me is a place where people are supportive of each other.  When I speak to people about Crisis Nursery and the children and families we serve, normally people say “Oh it makes me so sad that children are going through this. ” or “How could parents do this to their children? They should all be locked up!”  Yeah these situations are sad.  But instead of being sad for these families, be proud that they have the courage to seek out help.

The one common thing that I see in all the families we serve other than the usual risk factors of homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence, unemployment, untreated mental health, etc. is their lack of support.  These families feel they have no where else to turn to.  If I ever had an issue come up were maybe I lost my job or had a medical emergency.  I know I could turn to my family for help.  Not only to get me out of my bind, but to help care for me.  But the families we serve for some reason or another, do not have that support.  It could be they burned bridges with their family because of their substance abuse issues or untreated mental health.  Maybe they were in a domestic violence situation and  cut ties to their family and friends.  Maybe their families have such huge issues themselves that they can’t be support for them.  The reasons are endless.

Many of you might think, “Well this doesn’t affect me at all.”  Well, you’re wrong…it does!  These children and families are living in our community.  They go to our schools, go to the same shopping centers we go to, take part in the same community events, and then they grow up to be part of a workforce or end up in jail.  It can affect your homelife and the money in your pocket.

I can rant and rave forever, but that’s not a solution.  One hope I have for our community is to really look at the root issues that are plaguing our community and to come up with solutions to combat these issues.  Yeah, I am proud of the fact people of Arizona are rallying around securing proper funding for education.  Children in our schools are not doing that well compared to other states.  However, you have to think, “Is it because they are not properly funded?”  Yes, that could be it, but could it also be that their families are not getting proper support and our plagued with much harder issues that doesn’t make the enviroment for learning a priority.  And could it be that because they lack this support, their children are acting out in class disrupting the learning process in class.  Yeah, I that could be it too.  While these discussions go on about education, where does that leave social services?

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