Over the last two decades, reported rates of child abuse and neglect across the nation, including Lane County, have continued to rise. In response, better interventions have been developed to care for vulnerable children and assist parents and at-risk families. Local efforts, including Parenting Now!, Success by Six, Head Start, Big Brother-Big Sister, Family Resource Centers and the Relief Nursery programs, have made a tremendous difference in the lives of thousands of families in our communities.
Even with so many wonderful local programs, child abuse rates have not decreased, which is why a group of more than 225 Lane County folks gathered in 2011 to ask if there was anything else we could be doing to prevent child abuse and neglect. The answer was a resounding “yes.”
We could add another layer of community-based child abuse prevention efforts that involve every person, business, group and organization in an effective way. This was the birthplace of the vision to reduce child abuse and neglect in Lane County 90 percent by the year 2030 – it was the launch of 90by30, a University of Oregon-community partnership housed at the College of Education. To reach this goal, we need to increase support for existing efforts and add another layer of prevention strategies that have a proven track record of success elsewhere in the world.
90by30 began by spending much of 2012 searching and identifying effective prevention efforts, such as Australia’s “Play Your Part,” a community-based strategy that helps every person find their own place and role in preventing child abuse and neglect. Another example is Safe Families for Children, a Salem-based interfaith model that ensures every church, synagogue and faith-based organization takes on their role in order to reduce child neglect and abuse.
We need to add more people and groups to the effort to make it possible to dramatically reduce child abuse and neglect. To that end, 90by30 is asking individuals and groups all over Lane County, who are not currently involved in child abuse prevention efforts, to join us and ‘play their part’. An individual or group could help to select the community-based strategies to implement in their own area, assist in implementing the chosen strategies, work to align existing efforts with new strategies, be a part of the web-based communication system, or join the group that evaluates the effectiveness of the strategies chosen.
A good place to start would be the 2014 Conference to be held on February 28 and March 1 in Eugene.
The findings from a recent 90by30 pilot survey suggested that 75 percent of Lane County residents are willing to be active in reducing child abuse and neglect, and yet less than half reported knowing what to do or how to go about helping. 90by30 is in the process of creating the structure to implement the plan that will make it possible for each of us to play our part.
There are five adults for every child in Lane County. We know there is great strength in numbers. We have the ability, together, to provide a safer and healthier community for kids. Please visit our website or call 541-346-7484 to join this effort or find out more.
Phyllis D. Barkhurst is the Director of 90by30, the child abuse prevention initiative housed within the UO College of Education. Parenting Now! is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening families through parent support and education. Explore this website or call 541-484-5316. Family Info Line is also available; call 211, extension 5, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org /