Child Abuse in the Coachella Valley
COACHELLA VALLEY - April is Child Abuse Prevention month. Millions of abuse reports are filed every day across the nation, many right here in the Coachella Valley.
"Usually it's someone that's known to the child, like a trusted family member," said Rosemary Marta, the Clinical Director at Barbara Sinatra's Children Center. "But there's no one universal answer to that question."
According to the Child Abuse Prevention Center, every minute of every day a child is reported abused in California, and at least one dying daily.
"I would say that all the people that work here, that investigate these, [they think] these are of the most serious [crimes]," said Lieutenant James Armstrong from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. "Children are the most innocent and there's nothing they can do to prevent the crimes."
Prevention is one element, helping abused children is another. The Barbara Sinatra Children's Center provides assistance to children as young as 3-years-old.
"There's no universal way how children respond," said Marta. "It's really how that particular child responds. Some children are more resilient than other kids."
Therapists use a variety of methods to get children to open up about their feelings and experiences. They use everything from art therapy to games. Even Legos and board games can help abused children share what's happened to them.
Still, for many children the abuse goes unreported, and can lead to cases where children are severely injured.
"We had a young girl and her school reported that she had been abused. it appeared that her parents beat her with a belt, and seeing the photographs were very shocking," Lieutenant Armstrong said.
There are signs of abuse and neglect other than physical trauma, including depression, anxiety, isolation, self-mutilation, substance abuse, and suicidal tendencies.
Lieutenant Armstrong recommends investigating the symptoms further. If you think a child is being abused he says to call police.
The Barbara Sinatra Children's Center helps thousands of abused children every year and relies on donations to stay open. If you would like to help please send donations to the following address:
Barbara Sinatra Children's Center
39000 Bob Hope Drive
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270