The Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council for Kings County is hosting Kid’s Day, which is dedicated to celebrating children and bringing awareness to child abuse.
“It’s about coming together as a community. There’s so much child abuse in our county,” Keri Hardin, CAPCC board member, said.
The day kicks off with The Walk Against Child Abuse, taking place Saturday. Sponsors and walkers will check in at 8:30 a.m. at the Hanford Civic Park. The walk begins at 9 a.m. Walkers will make their way down Lacey Boulevard to the Hanford Mall. All are encouraged to wear dark blue and to make and carry a sign against child abuse.
Afterwards, the Kid’s Day Resource Fun Fair, which is an educational event designed for families, will take place at the Hanford Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The event will include over 30 health and community resource booths and services as well as games, crafts and demonstrations. Entertainment includes dance troops, magicians, Sesame Street characters and more.
Aside from the walk and fair, the council is also installing pinwheels this week in front of government centers throughout the county as a part of a national child abuse prevention campaign. The pinwheels will be on display throughout April.
“Blue is the color for child abuse awareness ribbons and these gardens are planted because pinwheels are fun and beautiful but it’s about bright futures for children,” Hardin said.
Unfortunately, child abuse in Kings County is prevalent, triggered by poverty and drug abuse, among several other factors.
“There’s not enough work. [Parents] are unemployed and if they’ve got a record, they can’t get employment. So what do they do? They sell drugs,” Kathy Cruz, prevention specialist for CAPCC, said.
She teaches a variety of classes educating parents and has received many letters from them detailing their struggles.
“One issue is job stress and strain, lack of employability but it’s also substance use, untreated mental health conditions. It’s learned [behavior] because it’s the way they were raised. So it’s a lot of contributing factors,” Dr. Crystal Hernandez, director of Champions, said. Champions is a nonprofit agency offering treatment programs for a variety of problems.
In 2015, Kings County had an approximate child population of 39,995, according to California Child Welfare Indicators Project data from the University of California, Berkeley. Child Welfare Services received suspected abuse referrals regarding 2,998 children.
Out of the 2,998 children with suspected allegations of abuse, 492 children had substantiated allegations. Five years prior, there were about 228 substantiated cases, resulting in a 129.5 percent increase for that five-year period.
According to Hernandez, AB109, Prop 47 and Prop 57 have contributed to the increase in cases. These bills have changed prison sentences, as well as placed people with “less serious offenses” in county jails as opposed to state prisons.
The Child Abuse Coordinating Council for Kings County “is proud to bring the Kid’s Day Resource Fun Fair, and Walk Against Child Abuse to Hanford in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month.”
All events are free.