As a pediatrician, I have always been amazed at the resilience of youth. I have seen kids bounce back from serious illness good as new. I see children who not only survive mistreatment and abuse but rise above it.
Children are resilient but they do need to have some tools to help them along. They need resilient adults to support and protect them.
No one I know purposefully gives birth to a child just so they can abuse and neglect the child. However, many circumstances, some of which I have never experienced, may lead to instances of abuse or neglect.
Unfortunately, Thurston County has one of Washingtons highest rates of Adverse Childhood Experiences (or ACEs), which include abuse and neglect; an incarcerated family member; loss of a parent due to death, divorce, or abandonment; and domestic violence, mental illness, and/or substance abuse in the household.
But no one has to go through this alone. We live in a community that is willing to help end the cycle of violence, prevent abuse and neglect, and help those dealing with adverse childhood experiences or personal struggles. We can do it because we are committed to collectively making an impact in the lives of our children.
The Junior League of Olympia is inviting you to participate in Thurston Countys first Community Summit, called Resilient Children, Resilient Communities. The free, public event is slated for 5-7 p.m. Friday at The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW. Immediately after, you and your family can enjoy Arts Walk, making this a powerful start to your family weekend.
Speakers will discuss the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences, talk about collective impact, and provide a forum for a good community dialogue about abuse prevention. Resilience is one of the most important factors to counter the negative outcomes of ACEs. Having resources that allow children and families to respond to, withstand, and recover from these adverse situations is how we build community resilience.
Connecting with your community, becoming more knowledgeable about parenting and child development, bonding with your children, and learning to build your own resilience are all ways that can help prevent child abuse. Come together with your neighbors and friends. Help protect each other and diminish the impact of ACEs.
For general information about child abuse prevention, go to www.childwelfare.gov/preventing.
For local information about family support, go to http://familyess.org.
For more information about the summit itself, go to www.jlolympia.org/community-summit.
Dr. Diana T. Yu is the Health Officer for Thurston and Mason counties. Reach her at 360-867-2501, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @yu4health on Twitter.