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Abuse prevention group reaches out to parents

Luke Beasley
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE/TAHOE “-As the economy continues to worsen, both national and local reports of domestic abuse continue to increase. Families forced to cope with grim economic realities ” pay cuts and job losses among them ” sometimes reach a boiling point, with children the resulting victims.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline, which surveyed more than 7,000 calls from Nov. 12 through Dec. 31, reported that more than half of the callers admitted to a change in household finances, while another 64 per cent said abusive behavior had increased.

Though such evidence does not prove a direct link between the financial crisis and incidences of abuse, professionals in the field think it is more than a coincidence.

Jessica Linn, who serves as the Children’s Program Manager at Tahoe Women’s Services and is a member of the Tahoe Truckee Child Abuse Prevention Council, said that her workload has increased.

“I can definitely tell you that our numbers have gone way up, especially since January,” Linn said. “I don’t know how we compare nationally. But I do know that there’s a lot of stress on families and parents right now. People are really struggling with trying to maintain a job, maintain relationships, and make the necessary time for their kids.”

Linn and her colleagues on the Council are intent on confronting the spike in domestic violence and abuse, with one of their new initiatives ” the formation of the Parent Engagement Committee ” aiming to expand the resources available for helping families.

“We would love to have parents get involved, and I think they should,” said Linn, who is the co-chair of the Council’s events committee and is working with the new parent committee. “It would be tremendously helpful to have strong parents help out others in the community, and if we worked together, we could certainly strengthen families to a greater extent.”

Those who join the Parent Engagement Committee can give their time where they choose, either by joining the Child Abuse Prevention Council ” which meets the first Thursday of every month ” or simply by working on special events throughout the year that raise awareness about the perils of domestic violence, Linn said.

The Committee’s overacrching goal, according to an email written by Linn to the Sierra Sun, would be “providing a parental voice to service providers” and “educating the community on child abuse prevention.”

The Council has already hosted two events to gauge interest, with two signed up and as many as 10 others considering it. More events are planned for the future, but Parent Engagement Committee Chairwoman Kim Jennings said it can be difficult to attract volunteers due to the subject of the council’s work.

“There’s a huge stigma and taboo in talking about child abuse,” Jennings said. “It’s almost like the word ‘prevention’ in our title is overshadowed by ‘child abuse’, and people are just scared away from associating with it.”

In addition to that longstanding obstacle, a more recent difficulty has arisen. Even as Linn and others deal with growing demand for their services ” likely a byproduct of the dire economy ” the necessary funding and volunteer assistance can be especially difficult to come by for that same reason.

National Hotline CEO Sheryl Cates said in a press release that an increase in her organization’s, “call volume comes at a time when private donations to the Hotline have decreased significantly.

While financial support may understandably wane until the economic outlook brightens, Linn pointed out that there are a multitude of ways to give back through the Tahoe Truckee Child Abuse Prevention Council, adding the time commitment required is up to the individual.

For more information about the Tahoe Truckee Child Abuse Prevention Council or its new Parent Engagement Committee, contact Jessica Linn at (530) 546-7804 or Kim Jennings at (530) 546-1955.


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