It’s a worthy goal, sending out the message that we can all be violence interrupters. And if the message reaches those in Douglas County who need it most, then it’s probably worth $200,000.
Maybe it will. Even so, the recent announcement that an advocacy group set up to fight child abuse has received a $195,529 grant raises a few questions.
The motive is praiseworthy. Preventing child abuse should be a priority for all communities. That goes for all forms of domestic violence as well.
The methods may be helpful. Whether they are effective enough to warrant such an investment is debatable.
The money comes from Catholic Health Initiatives, which owns Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg. It’s being granted to the Up2UsNow Child Abuse Prevention Coalition. Marion Kotowski, the coalition’s coordinator, described for The News-Review’s Carisa Cegavske how the group will use the funds for its outreach programs.
One program is a youth media project. Participating teenagers made videos to raise awareness of child abuse and posted them on social media sites. Last year, 11 students started the program. Four of them completed videos that were posted on YouTube.
The project is probably appealing to teens who would like to practice skills at acting, directing, scriptwriting and the like. It’s an activity that carries some cultural relevance and is probably a more productive pursuit than doing FaceTime with friends or following One Direction’s tweets.
Yet does financing four or five videos reach the people who really need to be alerted to the dangers of child abuse? Are the teens who produce the videos at great risk themselves and likely to learn how to protect themselves or others?
Another way in which Up2UsNow reportedly will use grant money is to create and distribute information about so-called purple crying. This is described as a natural period of intense bouts of crying, previously described as being colicky, according to Kotowski. By attempting to educate new parents about the condition, Up2UsNow wants to help prevent babies being shaken or otherwise harmed.
Again, a goal worth supporting. But is placing pamphlets in doctor’s offices and schools the best way to reach the type of person who would attempt to hush a baby by taking hold of its body and jerking it back and forth? And does it take hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce videos and pamphlets?
It’s not acceptable that even one Douglas County child should suffer from abuse or neglect. Any effort to reduce the risk for children is admirable. But large sums should be applied to programs that can document they’ve reached the populations where such behavior is most likely to take place.
We believe it’s up to Up2UsNow to demonstrate how its projects save or improve children’s lives before more sizable funds are forthcoming.