Ho‘oikaika Partnership tackling the difficult issue of child abuse
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Here on Maui, the Ho’oikaika Partnership is raising awareness of this very serious problem and promoting protective factors to help prevent child abuse.
April is also the Month of the Young Child. It is appropriate that these two observances occur in the same month, because sadly, 43 percent of child maltreatment victims nationally and in Hawaii are under the age of five.
The numbers are ugly. In 2012, 229 Maui County children were confirmed as victims of child abuse or neglect out of the 556 children reported to Child Welfare Services (CWS).
These 229 children represent 17 percent of the confirmed cases in Hawaii.
“One of the most effective ways to prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring is to ensure all parents have the knowledge, skills, resources and social support they need to provide safe, stable, nurturing environments for their children,” said Paul Tonnessen, director of the Friends of the Maui Children’s Justice Center, a nonprofit that provides assistance to abused and neglected children.
Events were staged this month, including a reading of the Mayor’s Proclamation and a concert at Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina.
The Ho’oikaika Partnership has also made available child abuse prevention resources, including brochures about the protective measures, at www.hooikaikapartnership.com/.
The Ho’oikaika Partnership is a coalition of over 40 organizations and individuals working to prevent child abuse and neglect in Maui County.
Key players include Edeluisa Baguio-Larena of Maui Family Support Services, Jeny Bissell of the Maui District Health Office, Nicole Hokoana of Child & Family Service Maui County, Tina Kiyabu-Crowell of the Maui Family Guidance Center, and partnership Coordinator Karen Worthington, a children’s policy attorney.
The coalition is correct in stating that 229 child victims is an intolerable figure. To get involved, contact Worthington at firstname.lastname@example.org or (808) 214-9336.