El Dorado County is a great place to live. We have beautiful scenery: rivers, lakes, snow-capped mountain; incredible school systems that meet the needs of the vast majority of our community’s children; we have many and varied opportunities for recreation for the young and old alike; El Dorado County can be a great place to live – unless you are a child that suffers from neglect or abuse. While we would like to believe that is not a problem in our community, it is. To believe otherwise is to ignore our strength and capacity to at reduce, if not eliminate, this problem.
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.
This week, the Child Abuse Prevention Council would like to share the incredible work that is being carried out every day by non-governmental organizations in our community that help to prevent, intervene and treat family situations that may result in child abuse.
In addition, there are an incredible number of opportunities for young people to participate in non-academic growth opportunities including community sports and recreational programs, boy and girl scouts, school sports, programs through the faith community, etc.
David Ashby El Dorado County Child Abuse Prevention Council
The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is an issue receiving much attention nationally and throughout the state. In 2014 legislation was passed to include CSEC children as meeting the qualifications for abuse and neglect under California’s Welfare and Institutions Code. This was an important first step by State leaders to address the cause and circumstance of CSEC, and this new legislation permits child welfare agencies to better serve this at risk population. In El Dorado County the Foster Youth and Human Trafficking (FYHT) Task Force has been serving the CSEC population since 2013 and operates under an MOU ratified by the County’s Board of Supervisors. This multidisciplinary team has had the privilege to serve over 30 CSEC youth in El Dorado County, and the California Department of Social Services has identified the FYHT Task Force as a model for a victim focused program for serving CSEC youth.
This multi-agency task force has representatives from the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency, Office of Education, District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, County Counsel, Placerville Police Department, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, and Youth Advocates of El Dorado County. The task force works closely with Marshall Medical and Barton Memorial Hospital and is supported by dedicated youth services provider agencies on the west slope and in South Lake Tahoe.
CSEC youth require intensive intervention and prevention services and task force members are dedicated in their task to serve this very vulnerable youth population. The focus of the task force and its sponsoring agencies is to greatly reduce or eliminate the sexual exploitation and domestic minor sex trafficking of youth in El Dorado County and to improve outcomes for identified CSEC victims. CSEC victims have often experienced trauma and abuse at a level most people would find difficult to even comprehend, and CSEC victims require intensive therapeutic services that can include out-of-state residential programs. A measure of success for the task force is the reintegration of CSEC youth back into their communities when the youth is ready to transition from a residential program. To date, three youth have successfully made this transition back into our communities, and their futures are bright, promising, and worlds away from the trauma they have experienced and survived. CSEC youth are El Dorado County youth, and their futures will continue to be directly linked to the support and services provided by dedicated community leaders, treatment providers, youth advocates, and workers in County social service programs.
“They only fought when they thought I was asleep,” said the 8 year old girl. Her mother told me later that she thought she was protecting her daughter from the fighting. She said, “He only took it out on me, he never yelled at her.” But her daughter was still in my office for trauma related to domestic violence.
There is a tendency to think of our intimate relationships as feelings that are just between two partners. Even if it’s just the adults interacting; those interactions have shock waves that are felt by everyone in the home. And those shock waves can be massive.
Despite the deep impact violence, both verbal and physical, has on children; rarely can a child articulate its effects.
Usually, the child expresses their feelings through behavior. Often called “acting out” behaviors, these behaviors are disruptive, aggressive and annoying. Often school staff and other professionals may mistake the acting out behaviors for evidence of Attention Deficit Hyper Active Disorder (ADHD) when really it the emotionally charged environment at home that the child is reacting to.
When you have chronic problems with your partner, you’re kids feel those shock waves. It leaves them confused and wondering about lots of things. They wonder if you’re putting up with abuse, are they supposed to as well. They’re wondering if they are going to get be the main target next. They are wondering who their safe person is, because if one parent is powerless and the other is scary, then who will keep me safe?
When kids are present, they are involved in your intimate relationships because they get hit with the same emotional
shockwave as you do. Take some time to consider how your kids are responding to your intimate relationship.
Matt Williams, The Center for Violence Free Relationships