Author: Edie Moro
Published: Feb 19, 2017
Reprinted with permission by the Fern Ridge Review and The Tribune News.
Phyllis Barkhurst, Director of 90 by 30, led off the second North Lane strategic planning session on Feb. 18 by explaining how 90 by 30 plans to meet its goal of reducing child abuse and neglect in Lane County be 90% by the year 2030. She stressed that government agencies have worked for years to stop child abuse with not much success because they have focused on risk factors that are associated with child abuse and neglect. Instead, 90 by 30 looks at strengthening protective factors for prevention.
90 by 30 uses a public health model that focuses on primary prevention strategies. Barkhurst explained that this is like putting up a bridge over a river so people can pass over it safely, rather than throwing them life preservers and pulling them out once they fall in (a secondary prevention).
Barkhurst, who is at the University of Oregon College of Education Center for Prevention of Abuse and Neglect, was able to utilize graduate students to search for primary prevention strategies globally. From this research, the largest project of its kind, a list was drawn up of strategies that are inexpensive enough to be universal. Community members choose the one or two most important strategies and implement them. After two years, the strategies will be evaluated to see which strategies work the best in the seven 90 by 30 regions of Lane County.
There are five protective factors for preventing child abuse and neglect. They are concrete support in times of need, social connections, parental resilience, social and emotional competence of children, and knowledge of parenting and child development.
Parental resilience shows itself when a parent is patient and understanding. A parent’s external strengths are friends and family; internal strengths are things like a sense of humor and faith. Two good strategies for building parental resilience are home visitation programs for parents of children ages 0-5, and “parent cafés.” A parent café is a safe and secure way to bring parents together at a local restaurant so that they may share problems and solutions.
Building a child’s social and emotional competence has been shown to lessen bullying and child abuse. Strategies for this help children learn how to handle their own social and emotional situations. One strategy is “Roots of Empathy,” a program that teaches young kids to emphasize with an infant by trying to identify the infant’s emotions and needs.
Concrete support for families includes food boxes, help with shelter or housing, providing clothing, and giving parents a respite from child care. “Safe Families for Children” is a faith-based program that may be conducted by local churches.
Providing parents and children with social connections breaks down the feeling of isolation and creates community connections. An example of this is the Foster Grandparents program for senior citizens and children. This program has been shown to improve language and reading skills by 75%, as well as increasing empathy. Another program is to provide baby boxes to new parents, an idea that originated in Finland. South Lane has adopted “Welcome Baby Boxes” as one of its main strategies. There are 41 different groups in the Cottage Grove/Creswell area that contribute to these boxes. Research shows that the boxes decrease the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by teaching parents the safe way to let their baby sleep, and also lower stress levels in parents.
Another strategy is ‘Secret Survivors,’ a community-based theater program that allows victims of sexual abuse, trauma, grief, or other stressors to talk about their experiences. This strategy brings in the arts community.
Parent cafés help to enhance knowledge of parenting skills and child development. The success of this preventive strategy is communication through hands-on parenting classes. On-line parenting classes are also available.
The next session, scheduled for February 25, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. at Fletchall Hall, 195 W. 5th Ave. (corner of W. 5th Ave. and Greenwood) in Junction City will look at the asset mapping report that the team members conducted. It will also be a strategy session to figure out how to bring a more diverse group of community members to the team.
North Lane encompasses the communities of Veneta, Elmira and the Fern Ridge area, plus Junction City and Cheshire. Harrisburg and Monroe school districts may be included if people from those areas join the team.
If you are interested in joining the team and helping to plan the next steps towards implementing strategies, contact Amber Peden, 541-913-3452, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.