Children at Risk


When there is a youth in crisis...
there is a family in crisis. 


  • The Spokane community has many children in crisis who deserve our time and means.  To respond to and address the needs of vulnerable children, we need to strengthen the capacities of families and communities who are trying to provide care.
  • “I think kids really want to have a reason to live.  And I think that’s why gangs are so successful.  There’s a passion there…we underestimate the power—especially with kids.  Kids are fervent; kids are passionate.  Kids are full of emotion and full of fire to make things happen.  Kids who have the opportunity to experience something on that level are much more likely to get involved in it—good or bad.”   (Bill Brittain, Director of Matchpoint, Relationships That Make a Difference)  
  • "Research shows that children who know where they came from are more resilient.  They are able to handle problems, do better in school and better socially, because they know they are part of something larger than themselves," said Helen Jackson Graham, English professor.  Helen is the Houston area Freedmen's Bureau coordinator, and has 20 years of experience in African American genealogical research.  Nurture the interest and collaboration of genealogical and family history research.  Linking to other families sometimes brings you right back around to your own family.  Help them recover their historical memory.  Help them recognize they are part of one human family.  Help them discover who they are, where they came from, discover their family stories, and to feel connected and bound to their families through generations.  (Source:  Reuniting the Black Family:  Volunteers Index Freedmen's Bureau Records, by Linda Talbot, LDS Church News, November 4, 2015)    

(See Family Histories

  • Child Abuse Defined.   In Washington, abuse or neglect is defined as any sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or other injury that causes harm to the child’s “health, welfare or safety.”  That includes unreasonable use of force to correct or restrain children, which is defined to include:  throwing, kicking, burning or cutting a child; shaking a child under age 3; interfering with a child’s breathing; threatening a child with a deadly weapon; doing any other act likely to cause or “which does cause bodily harm greater than transient pain or minor temporary marks.”  
  • Injuries and Violence to Children.  The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services CDC reports that injuries and violence are serious threats to the health and well-being of children and adolescents.  Children and adolescents are at high risk for many injuries that can lead to death or disability.

Some of the greatest threats to American youth:

  • Child Maltreatment.   Each year, hundreds of thousands of children suffer abuse or neglect. In most cases, the abuser is someone known to the child—a parent, family member, teacher, or regular caregiver.  Survivors are at increased risk for smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, suicide, and other negative health outcomes.
  • Child Passenger Safety.  Motor vehicle injuries are the greatest public health problem facing children today.  In fact, they are the leading cause of death among children in the United States.
  • Fireworks-Related Injuries.  All fireworks are dangerous, especially to children.
  • Playground Injuries.  Each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries.
  • Poisonings.  Children, especially those under age 6, are more likely to have unintentional poisonings than older children and adults.  Adolescents are also at risk for poisonings, both intentional and unintentional.
  • Residential Fire-Related Injuries.  Children ages 4 years and younger are among those at highest risk for residential fire deaths and injuries.
  • Suicide.  Suicide rates among youth remain unacceptably high.  It is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury.  Among children ages 0 to 14 years, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) result in an estimated 400,000 emergency department visits each year.
  • Water Safety.  Drowning is the second leading cause of injury death among children 14 years and younger.  And for every child who drowns, three receive emergency department care for non-fatal submersion injuries.
  • Young Drivers.  Two out of five deaths among U.S. teens are the result of a motor vehicle crash.
  • Youth Violence.  Youth violence typically involves children, adolescents, and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24. The young person can be the victim, the perpetrator, or both.  Youth violence includes aggressive behaviors such as verbal abuse, bullying, hitting, slapping, or fist fighting.    CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/children.htm 

  • Family (Domestic) violence affects every member of the family, especially children.  Family violence creates a home environment where children live in constant fear.  Many adults protect their significant other from being arrested, rather than preventing a child from being abused.  
  • Children who witness family violence are affected in ways similar to children who are physically abused.  They may develop behaviors that mimic abusers and/or victims.  Some children identify increasingly with the batterer, and adopt many of the same beliefs about gender roles and the use of control tactics.  Children from violent households are often unable to establish nurturing bonds with either parent, and are at a greater risk of becoming the next generation of abusers.
  • Children who grow up in homes where violence is present are:
6 times more likely to commit suicide
24 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.
60 times more likely to engage in delinquent behavior as an adolescent.
100 times more likely to become abusers themselves.  
  • Since domestic violence is a learned behavior, then it can also be unlearned.  Despite the increased risk, not all children of domestic violence become batterers or tolerate abuse.  
  • May we never forget our homeless children who need love, understanding, and a permanent home.
Statistics
  • Over 1,000 children were cared for outside their own homes in Spokane County in 2007.  
  • Spokane County Juvenile Court receives hundreds of referrals a year for abused, neglected or abandoned children.
  • Most mishaps with youth happen between the time school is out and 7:00 p.m.  
  • 1 in 5 high school girls says she has been abused by a date.  
  • 69,000 children are kidnapped each year in the U.S., and of those 82% are abducted by family members.  In the last 7 years, 7,000 child abduction attempts were made in the United States.  In 81% of those cases, the children got away because they knew what to do.  Parents and guardians can practice abduction scenarios with their children, reassuring them they are strong and can get away.  (The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, July 2012) 
  • Alcohol kills more kids than any other drug.  (U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2011)

What You Can Do
  • Report Child Abuse.  Be aware of child abuse.  Report abuse to law enforcement, CPS (Child Protective Services), family members, school teachers, counselors, and friends.
  • Report All Abuse.  The entire Spokane community (friends, neighbors, family members, schools, law enforcement, the courts…) is working together to see that every child is safe.  If you see an adult hitting or slapping a child or a pregnant woman, or suspect mental abuse, sexual abuse or neglect of a child, call 911.  
  • If you have concerns about the safety of a child, or believe a child is at immediate risk of severe harm or death, please call 911.  Law enforcement has the authority to shelter a child.  That is what they do, and what they are paid to do.  Child abuse is a top priority in Spokane. 

  • In the last 7 years, 7,000 child abduction attempts were made in the United States.  In 81% of those cases, the children got away because they knew what to do.  Parents and guardians can practice abduction scenarios with their children, reassuring them they are strong and can get away.  (The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, July 2012) 
  • Report Child Abuse.  If you have concerns about the safety of a child, and believe a child is at immediate risk of severe harm or death, please call 911.   Law enforcement has the authority to shelter a child.  That is what they do, and what they are paid to do.  Child abuse is a top priority in Spokane.  Please call--do not let fear paralyze you.  To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call:
     911          Emergency

(509) 363-3550      CPS - Child Protective Services (Spokane County)
  8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m./M-F,
  After Hours:  (800) 562-5624 after 4:30 p.m.
  Free Intake:  1-800-557-9671
  TTY:  (509) 363-3567 

(509)  456-2233      Crime Check

(509)  838-6596      Crosswalk (teens)

(509)  838-4428      First Call for Help

(509)  624-7273      SAFeT Response Center

(509)  327-5111       Secret Witness   (PO Box 1205, Spokane, WA 99210)

(509)  477-2240       Sheriff’s Office

(800)  422-4453       The National Child Abuse Hotline:  (1-800-4-A-CHILD)

(509)  242-8477     Tip-Line.  Anonymous Spokane Police Dept. phone line to report any crime that is NOT an   Emergency (abuse, domestic violence, gang activity, possible drug activity, fraud, theft, etc.)  Call (509) 242-TIPS  An officer will call back to verify the information and forward the complaint to the appropriate department within 24 hours; however, after the person has reported and verified the complaint, the caller can remain anonymous. 
Email:  spdtipline@spokanepolice.org   

(509) 535-3155         Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery

(866) 363-4276        Washington State's DSHS 
                                 (Dept. of Social and Health Services)

(509)  326-1190        YWCA Counseling Center - Ext 139

  • Offer to provide a safe place for children.  There are at least 75 Safe Places (businesses and fire stations which have a Safe Place sign in their window) for children at risk of abuse to turn to in an emergency.  
  • Child abuse prevention relies on volunteer work.  
“When the community takes an active, cooperative role like this, we can steer kids away from dangerous alternatives,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.  “We not only save the child, we also cut the costs affiliated with drug use, teen pregnancy and violent crime.  Without volunteers, without the community, we can’t do the job we’re assigned to do.”    (The Spokesman-Review, April 21, 2007)
  • Safe Place signs.  Yellow-and-black signs posted outside local businesses, fire stations and other organizations show children where they can find safety and support.  The Safe Place Program, helps connect children with social service agencies.  A second program trains adults in recognizing the signs of child sexual abuse and how to help those children who may be at risk of abuse.  Partners with Families and Children, a Spokane social service agency, delivers the workshops which provide parent education on how to prevent, recognize and react in a responsible way.  Both programs are free.   
  • Protect Children from Sex Offenders.  Experts note that child sex offenders often seek work where they have access to children, such as schools, youth groups, sports, music activities, etc..  Offenders are also frequently well-regarded by children and parents, because they seem so warm and nurturing.  
  • Volunteer to become a court advocate for abused and neglected children, ages newborn to age 18. 
  • Help children who have experienced abuse and domestic violence:
    • Be a mentor to children, whether you are a teacher, neighbor or someone who simply believes in them.  Teach children to hang on to hope and ask for help.  
    • Children in shelters during the holidays.  Children in shelters are often overlooked on Easter, Halloween, Christmas and other holidays, as well as their own birthdays.  Offer to provide items such as Easter baskets filled with new toys, coloring books, crayons, and candy.  This takes a huge burden off the mother who is trying to make a new life.  It also gives the children a good memory to hold on to during this difficult time.  
    • Volunteer to help baby-sit some of the children in a domestic violence shelter while their mothers seek counsel, rest, shop, and do other necessary things.  
  • Assist with the care of children in a crisis nursery or temporary childcare facility for emergency situations.
  • School Tip lines.  Students can help prevent bullying, drugs and violence from occurring in their school.   A new web and text message base called School Tip line allows students, parents and teachers to anonymously report incidents to school administration.  Administrators are then able to find out about things early on--things that they would probably never have been aware of.
Justin Bergener first came up with the idea for the site a couple of years ago when his younger sister had some friends who were being picked on, but they were too afraid to tell anyone because of all the negative peer pressure.  There's a code of silence, so students typically don't want to talk about these things.  They always know what's going on in their school, but are either too fearful or don't have an outlet to report it.

Help students make their school safer. 
Visit http://www.schooltipline.com to learn how to register your school and request to join School Tip line—and share it with your school administrators..   
  • Provide backpacks for children moved quickly into foster care--items such as toiletries, toys, reading and writing materials, and comfort blankets. 
  • Ask and be aware.  If a child becomes withdrawn, angry, fearful, unwilling to go places they have previously gone (school, babysitter, grandparent, etc.) find out why.  Is someone touching them inappropriately?  Are they afraid of another child or adult?
  • Pray for Children.  Sometimes the most powerful thing we can do for our children is to pray for them.  Pray for the millions of children throughout the world who have become victims of violence and abuse at home, in the streets and in their schools.  Ask God to help those children who are trying to recover from the death of a friend or family member.  Ask God to heal those families whose lives have been ripped apart because of a violent injury or death.
Local Organizations
Additional Resources

Alexandria’s House
(teen moms and their babies)
(509) 489-0349
http://www.voaspokane.org/Services/Affordable-Housing/Alexandrias-House

Aston-Bleck Apts
(young mothers and their children)
(509) 535-8267

Crosswalk
(tend babies of teen mothers while they are in school)
525 W. Second Ave
Spokane, WA  99201
(509) 838-6596

Parent-Child Assistance Program (PCAP)
http://depts.washington.edu/pcapuw/
Assist mothers in obtaining alcohol and drug treatment and staying in recovery.
Link mothers and their families to community resources that will help them build and maintain healthy and independent family lives.  Help mothers prevent the births of future alcohol and drug-affected children. 

Sally’s House
(age 2-12 emergency foster care)
222 E. Indiana
Spokane, WA
(509) 325-6810

Vanessa-Behan Crisis Nursery
(for children whose parents are experiencing a crisis)  '
1004 E. 8th Avenue
Spokane, WA   99202
(509) 535-3155
http://www.vanessabehan.org

Child Help
Changing lives with treatment programs designed to help children already affected by child abuse, and prevention programs designed to educate children and aid in prevention. 
http://www.childhelp.org

“Why do they act that way?”
(a survival guide to the adolescent brain, for parents and teens)
by David Walsh, PhD.