April 15, 2021
Multnomah County declares April 2021 as Child Abuse Prevention Month
PORTLAND, Ore. – Today, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office and CARES Northwest appeared before the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners to celebrate the proclamation of April 2021 as “Child Abuse Prevention Month.”
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said:
“By providing a collaborative, coordinated, trauma informed response to child abuse, our community can have a positive impact on the health and safety of the more than 150,000 children living in Multnomah County today, and on the well-being of the adults those children will become.”
Dr. Bimpe Adewusi, the Medical Director of CARES Northwest said:
“Research and clinical practice points to joblessness, homelessness, domestic violence, and mental health issues as risk factors that can lead to more incidents of abuse. I know child abuse continues to occur during this unprecedented time and COVID has widen the gap disproportionately for our BIPOC communities. Being the first BIPOC person in a leadership position at CARES Northwest, this concern often sits on my shoulders as I look to the future. It’s not only important to support kids and be on their side but use the tools set out by the U.S. CDC to prevent child abuse before it ever happens. We do this by promoting healthy relationships and healthy boundaries.”
CARES Northwest, Multnomah County’s child abuse assessment center, is a community-based medical program for the assessment, treatment and prevention of child abuse. The organization is one of the largest child abuse assessment centers in the nation and serves more than 5,000 children annually.
According to the most recent Oregon Department of Human Services Child Welfare Data Book published in 2020, there were 89,451 reports of child abuse and neglect in Oregon in 2019. In Multnomah County, there were 17,236 reports of abuse and neglect. The most common family stress factor when child abuse was present was substance abuse. The next most common stressors were domestic violence.
Multnomah County Victim Advocate Malia Bruni and Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Amity Girt read this year’s proclamation.
By declaring April 2021 as “Child Abuse Prevention Month,” the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners made findings that include:
- Child abuse and neglect is a serious public health and safety problem that impacts all of our community, and finding solutions requires input and action from everyone;
- Everyone in Multnomah County must work together to increase awareness about child abuse and contribute to promote the social and emotional well‐being of children and families in a safe, stable, nurturing environment; and
- Effective child abuse prevention and intervention efforts succeed because of coordinated partnerships between government, child welfare, health, schools, law enforcement and community organizations.
A copy of the full proclamation text can be obtained by clicking here.
Responding to and addressing child abuse during the pandemic has become much more challenging.
Multnomah County Chief Deputy District Attorney John Casalino said:
“As we all know, since the beginning of the pandemic there have been extreme challenges associated with the intervention, assessment, investigation and treatment of child abuse and neglect. I can’t stress enough how intervention is part of prevention.”
CDDA Casalino told the Board of County Commissioners that before April 2020, when kids were regularly at school, the largest group that made safety calls to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline were school employees—who made up 22% of the calls. Today, that is no longer the case as kids don’t have the same access to that trusted teacher or administrator.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office believes there must be a concentration on three societal factors that play a significant role in how we can effectively support all families and prevent child abuse and neglect: (1) be respectful and promote social and cultural norms that prevent abuse; (2) support federal, state, and local policies that reduce abuse; and (3) have equal equitable access for all our families to resources and opportunities.
The Multnomah County Multidisciplinary Child Abuse Team includes representatives from CARES Northwest, local law enforcement, public schools, hospitals, health departments, local mental health service providers, the Oregon Department of Human Services, and Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice.
The team works with community partners to protect children who have been abused and neglected while ensuring that all practices are trauma-informed and mitigate the life-long consequences of child abuse.
Brent Weisberg, Communications Director
Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office