April events highlight LLU Children’s Hospital pediatric forensics team’s commitment to preventing child abuse
The group from Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital made a big impact on the Tenth Annual Shine a Light on Child Abuse Prevention Awards Banquet on April 10, 2008, at the National Orange Show Grounds in San Bernardino. Pictured above (from left) are Joanna DeLeon, director of the LLUCH Foundation; Janet Bell, program specialist with the pediatric forensics team at LLUCH; Chris Clarkson, a member of the Walter’s Children’s Charity Classic (WCCC) committee; Cathy Kienle and Steve Kienle, philanthropists extraordinaire and co-chairs of the WCCC; Clare Sheridan-Matney, medical director of the LLUCH pediatric forensics team; Kim Feeley, a member of the WCCC committee; Hanna Snodgrass, daughter of Dr. Young; Amy Young, MD, forensic pediatrician at LLUCH; and Aaron Marson, MBA, development associate at LLUCH Foundation.
The pediatric forensics team at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital recently hosted one event and participated in another in order to call attention to April’s designation as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
According to Janet Bell, program specialist for the team, the first event—the second annual Keep Me Safe parenting conference—was designed to assist young and inexperienced parents in learning vital skills for coping with the challenges of dealing with infants and toddlers. The conference was held on Friday, April 4, 2008, in the Wong Kerlee International Conference Center.
The second event—the Tenth Annual Shine a Light on Child Abuse Prevention Awards Breakfast—was hosted by First 5 San Bernardino, and Children’s Network of San Bernardino, on Thursday, April 10, 2008, at the National Orange Show Grounds.
“National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect,” Ms. Bell states, “and to encourage individuals and communities to support children and families. People and organizations who are dedicated to protecting children have used this special time of the year to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse in all its forms.”
The Keep Me Safe parenting conference attracted an estimated 200 attendees, most of whom were young and inexperienced parents from the Inland Empire.
ere sponsored by the Walter’s Childen’s Charity Classic and First 5 San Bernardino,” Ms. Bell states, “which allowed us not only to host the event free of charge for participants, but also to give them tons of parenting information and brochures as well as copies of Dr. Harvey Karp’s best-selling DVDs—The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block—as well as a calming CD for babies called Soothing Sounds.
“The parents were high school students, members of teen parenting groups, and other individuals or families considered to be potentially at-risk. Our main goal is to prevent child abuse and shaken baby syndrome.”
At the conference, Harvey Karp, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics in the UCLA School of Medicine and author of two enormously popular books on parenting, gave the audience of approximately 200 a number of invaluable, practical solutions to the problems of calming crying babies and turning bedtime into a pleasant, positive experience using insights he found while studying the parenting principles of ancient cultures.
The Shine a Light Awards Breakfast honored a number of individuals and organizations throughout the Inland Empire for their invaluable service to children of the region. Two of those honorees have strong connections to LLU Children’s Hospital. They are Steve and Cathy Kienle of Walter’s Children’s Charity Classic (WCCC); and Amy Young, MD, a forensic pediatrician. The Kienles were cited for their philanthropic advocacy on behalf of children, while Dr. Young was commended for her tireless efforts and service to child victims of sexual and physical abuse.
At the Shine a Light Awards, Steve and Cathy Kienle were commended as “true philanthropists.” With the 12th Annual Golf Tournament in October 2007, WCCC raised more than $2 million for Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital and the children of the Inland Empire. Proceeds from the 2006–2007 WCCC helped to launch the Shaken Baby education program and Keep Me Safe parenting conference.
In speaking of Dr. Young’s accomplishments, the presenter noted that she is “a physician who always gives the extra effort to ensure her patients receive quality, personal, and culturally appropriate care.” After acknowledging Dr. Young as “an extremely valuable asset not only to the child protection team at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, but to all children of the Inland Empire,” the presenter applauded her as “a passionate advocate for all victims of abuse.”
Janet Bell says that many of the attendees at the Keep Me Safe conference expressed gratitude for the opportunity to attend the event and hear Dr. Karp. “Most of these people would never have had the opportunity to hear Dr. Karp or purchase one of his DVDs if it hadn’t been for the sponsorship of the Walter’s Children’s Charity Classic or First 5 San Bernardino,” she says. “These parents are never told they’re doing a good job as parents.”
Ms. Bell goes on to observe that child abuse is a widespread problem in our society. “Stereotypically, child abusers are thought to be poor and on drugs. But what we’ve found is that the incidence of child abuse increases dramatically when mothers choose unsafe and immature caregivers. More than 70 percent of the time, abuse occurs at the hands of a male caregiver. Having a prior criminal record factors in as well.”
Ms. Bell reports that the audience responded enthusiastically to the conference. “A couple of the attendees told me, ‘I got dressed-up for this; this is important to me.’”
What’s next for the pediatric forensics team? Ms. Bell notes that in addition to their advocacy for children, education at schools and domestic violence shelters, and preparation of materials to help stem the tide of child abuse in Southern California, the team is hard at work gathering data to share at the North American Shaken Baby Conference in Vancouver, Canada, in October.
“If we can prevent one family from abusing or shaking their babies,” she notes, “then all of our work will have been worthwhile.”
Individuals desiring more information about child abuse prevention programs and resources are invited to call the pediatric forensics team at (909) 478-0111.
By James Ponder