In an unprecedented collaboration, social service agencies, business leaders, media and other community partners will launch a 30-day initiative next month aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect.
The campaign, “Our Kids: Our Business,” will run throughout April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Organizers say the goal is to heighten awareness about abuse and neglect, and spur citizens to make a difference in the lives of young people.
A blitz of special events, activities and media coverage will examine issues associated with child abuse and neglect, as well as solutions for protecting and nurturing at-risk children. For example, a number of social service agencies plan to display pinwheels – an image associated with childhood innocence. The Spokesman-Review, the Pacific Northwest Inlander, KREM-TV and KXLY-TV all are planning special coverage of issues surrounding child abuse and neglect prevention. Other activities and events will be posted online starting in April at spokesmanreview.com/ourkids.
Child advocate and Boeing executive Bob Watt will speak at a luncheon April 13 at the Davenport Hotel.
He said that now is the best time to get involved in this emergency.
“We know more than ever before about toxic stress on the infant brain caused by violence in the home; whether it’s directed at another adult or directed at the infant,” said Watt, who previously led social service agencies and the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and was deputy mayor of Seattle.
“With a little help from family, friends and professionals, the effects of that stress can be offset if not completely remediated.”
Leaders in business, education, health care and social services are being asked to attend the April 13 event, said Mary Ann Murphy, one of its organizers and longtime counselor to at-risk children and their families.
The luncheon is sponsored by Greater Spokane Inc., the Inland Northwest Alliance for Early Learning, Spokane County United Way and The Spokesman-Review.
Murphy hopes those in attendance will be inspired to forge new partnerships and ramp up efforts to eradicate child abuse. Every dollar spent helping high-risk children returns $17, she said. And keeping kids safe is simply “the right thing to do,” said Murphy, veteran director of Spokane Partners with Families and Children, run by Inland Northwest Health Services.
“We are all reeling from the devastating stories (of child abuse) we’ve been reading about lately,” said Murphy, “and I think we have a renewed energy to ask the question: What can I do?
“We should break the privacy bubble. We have to get over the fact that we’re supposed to mind our own business, and instead make kids all of our business.”