CASA and Child Abuse Prevention Council in Tulare County kickoff National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April with March 26 event in downtown Visalia
VISALIA — Children were the people most affected by the pandemic, and, even before COVID-19, were victims of another crime that rippled through their lives and society. In 2019, a year before children were sequestered to their homes and isolated from their friends, social interaction and education, 10,000 children in Tulare County were victims of alleged child abuse. Nearly a third of those children will go on to abuse their own children, commit violent crimes and spend significant time in prison, especially if they are female. During the pandemic, without access to a safe place during the day with caring teachers and counselors, it is estimated these numbers are not only higher but more underreported than ever before.
In an effort to bring attention to children often suffering in silence, CASA of Tulare County is joining with the Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC) for a “March on Main” event on March 26 in downtown Visalia. The event is a kickoff to National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. The public is invited to wear blue and join the March on Main from 9 a.m. to noon to help raise awareness of the importance of protecting children in Tulare County from abuse and neglect, and to strengthen child abuse prevention efforts in our community.
“According to our partner CAPC, 1 in 15 Tulare County children is suspected of being abused each year, with more than 8,000 calls made to Child Welfare Services in 2019 alleging abuse in this county,” Alberto Ramos, executive director of CASA of Tulare County, says. “As a community, we can do a lot to improve that, and this march is a step in the right direction.”
Marchers will gather at 9 a.m. in the public parking lot behind the Wells Fargo bank on the corner of West and Main streets, where they will be given blue pinwheels, blue ribbons and blue balloons to spread the message while they walk. The march proceeds east on Main Street and ends at the Garden Street Plaza.
Prior to the march, local dignitaries will be on hand to proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Tulare County, including:
- Keio Ogawa, a professional Drum Circle facilitator, will bring Keio’s Drum Jam to the center of the plaza, where kids and adults can join in on the healing, the learning, the rhythm and the FUN. Participants should bring a drum or other musical instrument and join the fun.
- FREE COVID vaccination clinic, provided by a team of nursing professionals from Adventist Health of the Central Valley. The first 50 people to receive a vaccination will be given a $50 gift card/certificate from Costco or the Downtown Visalians.
- FREE COVID testing services provided by Curative in partnership with the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency.
- Local food vendors will be on hand with free samples for the first 100 attendees, including Javi’s Tacos, Rosa Brothers Ice Cream, Bite Me Mini Donuts and Bombshell Beans Mobile Coffee.
- More than 20 nonprofit partner booths will provide information about local services for families.
According to CAPC, child abuse comes in many forms. The most common is general neglect, which is also the most underreported and least covered by the news, as well as physical neglect, and physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Child abusers can be parents, caretakers, friends and neighbors. Any family, regardless of socio-economic status, religion, education, or ethnic background can be child abusers.
Signs of child abuse include a change in behavior, where the child becomes aggressive, disruptive, shy, fearful, withdrawn and doesn’t smile anymore, a lack of bowel or bladder control, undernourished, tired, listless, welts, burns and bruises. If their family members seem controlling, rigid, or suffering from addiction or if they are constantly criticizing, threatening, or rejecting the child, these could be a precursor to signs exhibited by the child.
Everyone is welcome to attend this free community event, to wear blue, carry a blue pinwheel or a blue balloon, and learn more about National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. For more information, visit CASATulareCo.org or TulareCountyCAPC.org.