How Do We Get to 90 by ’30?
Reducing child abuse 90% by 2030 is an ambitious goal. So what makes us confident that, with a lot of hard work and community involvement, it’s also an achievable one? How do we get from here to there?
When polled, more than 85% of a random selection of Lane County residents agreed that the most important ways to reduce child abuse and neglect are:
- Support. If all people received the emotional support they needed, we would significantly reduce child abuse.
- A local plan. If there were a long-term, community-wide effort to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect, we could help end it.
- A role for everyone. Personal action makes a difference – every person, neighborhood, group, organization, business, and entity has a role to play in reducing child abuse and neglect.
90by30’s theory of change and core philosophy encompass all those things and more. We believe that, by focusing on primary prevention and strengthening the protective factors that support families and children, we can make a difference.
Primary prevention strategies stop abuse before it actually happens. While it’s crucial to support children and families who have experienced abuse, a world without child abuse or neglect requires us to get ahead of the problem.
What does primary prevention look like?
- It targets everyone. These are “universal” interventions because they are available to all people in a society, regardless of risk factors.
- It aims to eliminate the root causes of a problem to ensure it never occurs in the first place
- It is like eradicating polio by vaccinating the masses.
Secondary prevention targets the people most at risk and aims to maximize the impact of limited resources by concentrating on those who will benefit most. This is a common child abuse prevention strategy. Most agencies working to address abuse and neglect focus on children and families identified as at-risk because of factors like poverty, parental addiction, or limited access to early childhood education.
Secondary prevention will not, on its own, prevent child abuse or neglect from happening. For example, child protective services intervene when a report of abuse is made, with the goal of preventing further abuse – but they can’t prevent abuse before it starts.
Tertiary prevention targets people already impacted by a problem in an effort to limit further harm or stop it from occurring again. Things like peer support groups, legal prosecution, family support programs, and medical advocacy address the harm done by abuse by helping survivors heal and deal with the lifelong impact of their experiences. Tertiary prevention is critical to support survivors but, like secondary prevention, won’t stop abuse.
A Role for Everyone
To decrease child abuse and neglect 90% by 2030, we’re going to need more than efforts of a few organizations or experts – we’re going to need everyone. 90by30 uses a collective impact model, which makes it possible for a large and diverse group of individuals and groups to work together to solve a complex social problem. The collective impact framework calls for:
- A common agenda
- A shared measurement system to ensure our work is having an impact
- Mutually reinforcing activities
- Continuous communication to keep everyone on the same page
- Community engagement
- A backbone organization to coordinate, manage, and provide leadership for the effort. The UO Center for the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect is 90by30’s backbone organization.
For 90by30, community engagement is perhaps the most important of all these things. We believe everyone has a part to play in preventing child abuse and neglect, and research shows that Lane County residents want to play their part. In a recent survey, 85% of Lane County adults said that there is a role for each of us in preventing child abuse and neglect – but 43% didn’t know what they could do personally to solve the problem.
That’s where our K(no)w More campaign comes in. A community that knows more about how to support families can say no more to child abuse. No matter who you are – a parent, a neighbor, a teacher, a business owner, a health care provider – the www.knowmorelanecounty.org website has ways you can make a difference for kids in your community.
Focus on Protective Factors
90by30’s work is rooted in the five Strengthening Families protective factors identified by the Center for the Study of Social Policy. Instead of focusing on risk factors that may be beyond individuals’ control, we focus on the positive – on creating safe, healthy, nurturing communities for kids by bolstering the protective factors that guard against abuse and neglect. Research shows that rates of child abuse are much lower when:
- Parents are strong in the face of stress. Parental resilience is all about bouncing back from tough situations and taking care of yourself when you need it. It’s managing stress and functioning well when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma.
- Friends and family are supportive. Social connections make any parent feel less alone and give us a network to rely on. Strong relationships help parents feel confident, empowered, and able to reach out for help. These positive connections provide emotional, informational, and spiritual support.
- Parents have information on parenting skills and child development. Knowledge of parenting and child development helps parents know what to expect as their child grows, gives them strategies to solve parenting problems, and helps them respond to their child in a positive way.
- Essential needs are met. Concrete supports like housing, food, and medical care are the things that every parent and child needs to be successful. Knowing where to turn when these resources are scarce can help families through hard times. When a family’s needs are met, parents are better able to minimize stress caused by challenges.
- Children know how to manage their emotions and social interactions. When parents know how to help their kids grow in social and emotional competence, kids are happier and healthier, and parents can respond positively and warmly to situations. Children develop the ability to communicate clearly, recognize and regulate their emotions, and establish and maintain relationships.
All of the strategies chosen by our Regional Leadership Teams promote one or more of these protective factors. For example, the Welcome Baby Bundle provides concrete supports, increases social connections with the community, and gives parents information to improve their knowledge of parenting and child development.
Choosing strategies that have been shown to reduce child abuse and neglect are part of our Public Health Approach to solving this complex problem. This is the approach used by the same people who wiped out smallpox worldwide in a 20-year period after they recognized that immunizations could prevent the disease. That realization led to a global health campaign to convince the world to get vaccinated – and it worked. By following the steps of the public health approach – define the problem, identify the causes, make a plan, and build on success – we hope to come up with a “vaccine” for child abuse.
90by30 is building on programs with a record of success. When our Regional Leadership Teams set out to craft their prevention plans, team members selected from a slate of research-based strategies shown to achieve results. For example:
- The Welcome Baby Bundle is modeled on the Finnish Baby Box, which dramatically reduced infant mortality in Finland by promoting safe sleep and connecting parents with resources and medical care.
- Research shows that Roots of Empathy reduces bullying and aggression and increases respectful, caring relationships.
Because 90by30 is housed in the University of Oregon’s Center for the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect, we’re able to draw on CPAN’s research expertise to evaluate each strategy we implement. Are our efforts succeeding? How can we be more effective? These are questions CPAN’s evaluation team will help us answer.
Local Decision Making
90by30 does not prescribe a single top-down plan to reduce child abuse and neglect in Lane County. Instead, we support teams in each of seven unique regions to craft plans for their own communities. What works in Veneta may not work in Cottage Grove, and what works in Eugene may not work in Oakridge.
We deliberately began organizing in Lane County’s rural regions first, knowing that non-urban communities are too often an afterthought when it comes to solving social problems. Instead of asking all of the county’s diverse communities to follow the lead of Eugene and Springfield, we spent time surveying residents across the county. We listened to their thoughts on preventing child abuse and asked what they saw as the greatest needs in their communities.
When each region selected strategies for its prevention plan, local residents were in the driver’s seat. Our Regional Leadership Teams are made up of people who live and work in the areas they’re leading. We solicited input from stakeholders and community members in the region, drawing on their wealth of experience to choose prevention strategies that reinforced the area’s unique strengths and filled in the specific gaps in its services.