This month I focus my article on a very serious topic — child abuse. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and it reminds us that it affects us all in some way — whether we know someone who was abused, have been abused ourselves, or care for patients that have been affected by this horrific issue. Currently there are more than 700 legislative bills under consideration in the State Legislature that relate to child abuse. I want to highlight two entities in San Antonio and Bexar County that are available as important resources for physicians when it comes to this topic.
The Center for Miracles located at Children's Hospital of San Antonio (CHOSA) is the primary child abuse assessment center in our area (http://www.chofsa.org/centerformiracles ). At the Center for Miracles, they provide complete medical and psychosocial assessments for children who are referred by Child Protective Services, law enforcement or medical professionals and who are suspected victims of abuse or neglect. The assessment may include any of the following: complete physical examination, forensic photo-documentation, psychosocial evaluation, diagnosis/report, court testimony, and additional services, including short-term counseling, physician consultations, mental health staffings, physical abuse and neglect case staffings, and inpatient consultations at Children's Hospital of San Antonio.
ChildSafe is the only children's advocacy center in Bexar County. As they describe it, ChildSafe's mission is to restore dignity, hope and trust to children traumatized by abuse and neglect. At ChildSafe, they collaborate, advocate for children, raise community awareness and raise money for services. Some of the services they provide are CARE (Child Abuse Resource Enhancement), FEAT (Family Enrichment Adventure Therapy), forensic Interview services, referral to medical services, family support services, and counseling.
ChildSafe provides in-person training to children and teens, professionals, parents and adults, and licensed mental health providers and clinicians both on and off-site. Some topics of these seminars include "Brown Bag workshops," "Child Sexual Abuse: victims and offenders," "What is child abuse?," "Sexual Behavior Problems in Children," "Out and About Safety," and "Interacting with Sexually Abused Children."
Cardboard Kids is a local child abuse prevention campaign. In 2015, there were 4,941 confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in Bexar County. And while that number is staggering, it’s just as shocking to learn that only 1 in 10 sexually abused children ever make an outcry, meaning thousands more children in and around San Antonio are victims of abuse, typically by someone the child knows, loves, and trusts.
To bring awareness to this incredibly urgent issue, ChildSafe created the Cardboard Kids Campaign. Cardboard Kids are 2-foot tall cardboard figures shaped like children that represent one of the thousands of children that are abused and neglected at the hands of adults in our community each year.
This is ChildSafe’s fourth year to partner with local businesses, clubs, organizations and individuals to decorate and display a Cardboard Kid representing one of the thousands of children who suffer from abuse and neglect at the hands of adults in Bexar County every year. Community members, businesses, and families are encouraged to decorate and display their own Cardboard Kids on “Reveal Day” on April 6, to create awareness about child abuse and neglect and our mission of ending child abuse in Bexar County.
Leah Jacobson, MD
2017 BCMS President