Media Contact
Rich Batten
Colorado Department of Human Services
303.866.3808
Maggie Spain
The Bawmann Group
303.320.7790

March 26, 2008

Colorado Fathers Come Together in Support of National Child Abuse Prevention Month

According to State figures, more than 68,000 allegations of child abuse were reported in Colorado in 2006. Children suffer from physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse and neglect every day. Thus, Colorado fathers are joining together in support of National Child Abuse Prevention Month this April by promoting healthy families, safe communities and raising awareness of child maltreatment prevention efforts.

“It’s imperative that we give our children every resource they need to reach their full potential,” said Rich Batten, fatherhood specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services. “Doing so requires love, stability and support. Therefore, we must commit to providing healthy and safe home environments for our children now so that they may grow and mature into confident and successful adults.”

According to Childhelp®, a non-profit organization committed to helping victims of child abuse and neglect, the following is a list of guidelines you should follow if a child discloses that someone has abused him or her.

DO NOT IMMEDIATELY

  • Investigate
  • Ask leading questions
  • Make promises
  • Notify the parents or the caretaker

DO

  • Provide a safe environment (be comforting, welcoming and a good listener).
  • Tell the child it was not his/her fault
  • Listen carefully
  • Document the child’s exact quotes
  • Be supportive, not judgmental
  • Know your limits
  • Tell the truth and make no promises
  • Ask ONLY these four questions. Asking any additional questions may contaminate a case.
  1. What happened?
  2. Who did this to you?
  3. Where were you when this happened?
  4. When did this happen?
  • Call your local law enforcement agency
  • Call your local Child Protective Services Agency
  • Call the 24-Hour Childhelp® National Child Abuse Hotline to be connected with an appropriate agency. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD, is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and is staffed 24 hours a day.
A significant number of child abuse victims are also children who exhibit signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). SBS is a serious brain injury that occurs when an infant or toddler is violently shaken. SBS can cause blindness, cerebral palsy, brain damage and even death. However, this serious syndrome can be prevented through education and the development of coping skills for dealing with a crying baby.

"Crying is the most common trigger for a caregiver to violently shake a baby," said Antonia Chiesa, M.D., senior director of pediatrics at the Kempe Child Protection Team. "It's important to have a plan about how you can respond when you are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. For example, it's okay to leave a crying baby in a safe place, like a crib while you calm down. Also consider contacting a friend or family member to help or give you a break."

In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a $10 million federal grant over five years to strengthen father/child relationships and improve parenting. Colorado is one of two locations nationwide, including Washington, D.C., to receive this federal community access grant. The Responsible Fatherhood Initiative distributes more than $1.1 million in community awards to state, community and faith based organizations to assist in providing direct services to fathers and families. Awards of up to $50,000 are distributed per program per fiscal year. For more information, visit www.coloradodads.com.

For more information on SBS or to learn more about how to console a crying baby, visit www.dontshakeababy.com.