Prevent Child Abuse NJ would like to share a story to paint a picture of why we work tirelessly every day to bring child abuse prevention efforts to all parents, caregivers and professionals across NJ.
January 8th, 2009 a beautiful baby boy named Joey entered this world in a hospital in NJ. His family was overjoyed with his arrival and their new addition to their family. His grandmother, Amy*, was thrilled to have a grandson she could dote on.
Two months later, Joey was taken to the emergency room with bleeding on his brain and behind his eyes. His head was swollen and they weren’t sure if Joey could see or hear. He was a victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) at the hands of his father; his father whom had also been abused as a child until adopted by Amy when he was 6 years old. Amy is the proud grandmother of Joey, yet also the mother of the abuser. This incident forever changed their lives as Amy now works each day to protect Joey, who is now a SBS survivor and just turned 4 years old this January.
In a complex story involving family dynamics, devastation and an intense determination to protect her grandson, Amy has become an active volunteer and strong voice to prevent shaken baby syndrome and infant abuse. She reached out to PCANJ as soon as she learned the Period of PURPLE crying program was coming to New Jersey; a program designed to prevent SBS.
In 2012, Prevent Child Abuse NJ (PCANJ) launched a shaken baby syndrome/infant abuse prevention program called the Period of PURPLE crying in 2 New Jersey hospitals: Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston and Newark Beth Israel in Newark. This program is effective at helping parents understand newborn crying and also teaching them about how to cope with the stress of a crying baby. Anyone who has ever been around a crying baby (add in no sleep for weeks with seemingly no end in sight!) can relate to the frustration of not being able to calm the baby down.
Fortunately, the PURPLE program teaches parents there IS an end in sight and that this is a period that all babies go through in their development. The cost is $2 per family for the hospital; an investment we think is worth it to save a child like Joey from having to ensure a lifetime of surviving the injuries from SBS.
Amy wrote: “As difficult as this is for me to re-live, I feel it is absolutely necessary, in the hopes of preventing another family from experiencing the tragic results of SBS. I’m all too familiar with the affects of child abuse on generations, and therefore, am willing to help in any way possible”.
PCANJ wants to bring this effort to more hospitals in NJ and with your support we can show that Prevention Matters… because Joey matters.
To support the Period of PURPLE crying program in New Jersey please visit our Period of PURPLE site.
If you are interested in knitting purple newborn caps for PCANJ’s Click for Babies in NJ campaign, please visit our Click for Babies site.
If you or someone you knows works in a NJ hospital that may be interested in bringing the Period of PURPLE crying to families who deliver there, please contact Gina Hernandez.
*Name has been changed to protect identity.
Recently, Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) released a report that finds that our youngest children –those younger than age 3 — were far more likely to die from child abuse and spend longer times in foster care than older children. The report is a valuable wake-up call that raises public awareness about the high levels of stress for parents with young children and a number of long-standing weaknesses in the foster care system. The report calls for better training of child welfare workers and special attention to the special issues of babies and toddlers.
Prevent Child Abuse-New Jersey supports these excellent recommendations and while they may be necessary, they are not sufficient to fully address the challenge of child maltreatment that lies before us.
Child maltreatment – most notably physical abuse and neglect – happens to younger children in all settings for many of the same reasons it happens in the foster care system: younger children can present some of the most difficult challenges for parents because their communication skills are limited and their behavior can be trying even for the most stable and successful parents. And many parents lack sufficient knowledge about healthy child development to be a positive parent.
Federal statistics and NJ show that the highest rate of maltreatment happens to children under age 4 and the 80% of all fatalities from abuse occur to children younger than.
So certainly, ongoing reforms are needed in the foster care system to reduce the risk of child abuse for our youngest children.
But maybe more importantly, we have the opportunity to PREVENT these tragedies from occurring before a foster placement becomes necessary and before a child becomes a victim.
Improving the training of child welfare workers can be helpful, but strengthening proven prevention programs like home visitation would yield better results. Although home visitation programs have been expanded, we are only able to serve a small percentage of families in high-risk situations. We should also consider requiring foster parents to participate in home visitation programs to more closely monitor the stress level in this new temporary family setting, which would provide added education and support to prevent a tragedy.
The foster care system is a result of our most fundamental failure to prevent child abuse. Our first priority should be to strengthen our efforts to prevent child abuse from ever happening. Research about prevention programs shows they save lives, improve a child’s long-term health outcomes and success, and save taxpayers money by preventing the downstream costs of foster care, law enforcement, health care, treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues, incarceration and unemployment.
Anytime there is a case of child abuse, we need to back up from the crime and ask, “What could have been done to prevent this from ever happening?” In addition to helpful recommendation by ACNJ about reforms in the child welfare systems, there are many valuable opportunities to do better to prevent child abuse in NJ.
When Cramer Elementary School in Camden announced its new name, it was clear that it just wasn’t just any three words added to the schools namesake — there was a message being sent to the school community. “Cramer College Preparatory Lab School” was renamed as such so everyone knew that these students were being prepared to be college bound. Along with a new name came new leadership as first year assistant principal, Dr. Marvin Gantt, fully understands the importance of family engagement during Cramer’s new focus of creating nothing less than educated and prepared future college students.
Though Dr. Gantt was new to the NJPIRC partnership and Action Team model, he was one of the first school administrators to reach out to us in order to get started on this year’s plan. With the help of the parent coordinator, Ms. Nilsa Cruz, they did not miss a step as they recruited new parents for the 2010-11 Action Team and scheduled the NJPIRC Refresher Training within the first two weeks of school. Shortly after their initial training, Cramer School submitted their action plan stating exactly how they would engage parents during the school year to increase student achievement. In addition to reading and math workshops to assist parents in helping their children learn, the Action Team has also planned monthly parent support workshops with topics that include “Allergy and Asthma Awareness,” “Parent Child Communication,” and “Nutrition for Optimal Learning.”
With parents being engaged at this level, there is no doubt that the students of Cramer College Preparatory Lab School will be equipped for success at the secondary level and beyond.
We are excited about this year’s partnering schools and will be sharing the accomplishments of other partners as they continue to create a culture of family engagement to increase student achievement in New Jersey! When Parents Believe… Students Achieve!
For more information about NJPIRC partnering schools and what you can do to increase family engagement in your school, please visit www.njpirc.org.
Lanning Square Elementary School in Camden, NJ is truly gearing up and preparing themselves for a successful year immersed with parent engagement. Looking to build on strides taken last year, their Family Engagement Action Team began with the NJPIRC Refresher Training where they reflected on last year’s efforts and discussed enhancements for the 2010-11 school year.
They also hosted the “Taking the Lead” workshop during their Back to School night reaching over 50 parents and collected feedback using the “Are We Family Friendly” survey for parents. Principal Katrina McCombs remains very dedicated and enthusiastic about increasing Family Engagement throughout the school and is working diligently with staff and parents to create effective home school partnerships. NJPIRC will support their efforts by providing them with at least $1,000.00 in funding and intense technical assistance with executing their action plan. The team is now in the process of recruiting more parent support and forming committees for upcoming initiatives.
We are excited about this year’s partnership with Lanning Square and will be sharing their accomplishments as they continue to create a culture of family engagement to increase student achievement in Camden, NJ! When Parents Believe… Students Achieve!
For more information about NJPIRC partnering schools and what you can do to increase family engagement in your school please visit www.NJPIRC.org.