Arizona Giving and Leading: Childhelp

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Childhelp is an organization that has programs to prevent child abuse and provide services to victims. Childhelp will have a raffle starting February 5 to raise funds. Benah Parker,

Childhelp National Director of Prevention Education, will tell us more about the organization and its mission.

Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of "Giving and Leading" focuses on "ChildHelp," an organization that works to prevent child abuse and provides services to victims. For more on "ChildHelp" we welcome Benah Parker, the group's national director of prevention education. Good to have you here. Nice to see you.

Benah Parker: Thank you.

Ted Simons: "ChildHelp" is what?

Benah Parker: "ChildHelp" is the leading nonprofit dedicated to preventing and treating the effects of child abuse and neglect. We've been in existence for about 26 years and in that time we've served nine million children nationwide.

Ted Simons: How did this all get started?

Benah Parker: The two founders basically they were on a USO tour. After a giant storm they were out taking a walk and found a group of 11 children kind of huddled after a storm. They brought them into their hotel, realized that these children had been basically neglected. They were not accepted by their families. That was when they kind of realized what a need there was. They worked with those children, developed services there, and came back to the U.S. and kind of created "ChildHelp."

Ted Simons: Yeah, and the rest is history. Define child abuse.

Benah Parker: Oh. Child abuse, it's pretty much -- every state has their own definitions. But the broad understanding is physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, bullying, cyber-bullying fall under that as well.

Ted Simons: Has that definition changed over the years?

I would assume so as technology continues to grow and we see more of the impact of cyber-bullying.

Ted Simons: First, how do you know? How do you know the signs of this, especially the emotional abuse?

Benah Parker: Yeah, no, there's signs and symptoms of abuse. Obviously we have training. I oversee "ChildHelp," speak up, be safe. We have training for facilitators to understand some of the signs and symptoms of abuse. When we work with School Districts we have mandatory reporter training. We have resources on our website to help parents and community members kind of learn what some of those signs symptoms are and recognize them in the children they are around.

Ted Simons: Address for that website?

Benah Parker: Childhelp.org.

Ted Simons: Childhelp.org.

Ted Simons: Programs to prevent abuse and programs that provide services for victims. What are we talking about here?

Benah Parker: "ChildHelp," we have a lot of programs. We have brick and mortar facilities in Arizona and California and Virginia and Tennessee. And there we have residential treatment centers, we have some foster care. Here in Arizona we have the child help children's advocacy center of Arizona. Then nationwide we have the "ChildHelp" national child abuse hotline, a hotline that's available 24 hours a day, 365 day as year. It's staffed with trained counselors, master's degree, so that anybody, whether it's a child in crisis or a parent or a community member concerned about a child can call that hotline and get access to services in their communities. And then there's the prevention education curriculum which is nationwide as well.

Ted Simons: Wow. As far as child abuse reports, we've had a lot of controversy in this state over the State program. In general, are those reports increasing, decreasing? Are they changing?

Benah Parker: I personally am not an expert on the exact numbers, historically how they have changed. At our children's advocacy center field in Arizona, in 2014 more than 8,000 children came through those doors, just in the Phoenix area. I know nationwide on average five children a day die due to child abuse and neglect. That's five too many. That's a number that as a society we cannot accept. Arizona unfortunately is one of the worst in the nation. We report about 10% higher than cases of abuse than the national average. It's an epidemic people don't recognize or talk about but it's very much there, unfortunately in every community.

Ted Simons: We State programs, "ChildHelp" here, a national program and a way to get more information out there. What more needs to be done?

Benah Parker: I think raising awareness, helping communities understand that it is an epidemic, there are things they can learn to do. With "ChildHelp," speak up be safe, this is a child program that comes into the schools and helps children learn basic safety rules. The overarching message is adults are responsible for keeping children safe. But there are things children can learn that can help those adults. Whether it's basic body autonomy, whether it's recognizing internet predators, all those different things are in that curriculum.

Ted Simons: I understand there's a raffle going on.

Benah Parker: Absolutely. We have the "ChildHelp" megaraffle, an opportunity to help a child and win a prize. Here in Arizona the net proceeds of the raffle will be used to expand services in the state. There are 2900 prizes. The grand prize is a $700,000 home from heritage homes, and there's a one in 20 chance of winning. Everyone should go to "ChildHelp" megaraffle.org.

Ted Simons: That's it. Congratulations on the great work.

Benah Parker: Thank you.

Ted Simons: And good luck in the future.

Benah Parker: Thank you so very much.

Ted Simons: And Wednesday on "Arizona Horizon" former ambassador Kurt Volker joins us for the latest in foreign affairs. And Ruth Pointer of The Pointer Sisters will be here to discuss her new book. That's at 5:30 and 10 on the next Arizona Horizon. This is it for now, I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Benah Parker: Childhelp National Director of Prevention Education

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