Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an important time to raise awareness to the prevalence of sexual assault and to cultivate resources for survivors. This year, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, has chosen the theme We Can Build Safe Online Spaces. This is an essential topic and more important than ever with the impact of the internet and social media on our culture.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “Sexual violence is an umbrella term that includes any type of unwanted sexual contact — either in person or online — including sexual assault, harassment, and abuse.” 

What does online sexual violence look like? This might include youth being groomed for exploitation by predators online through social media or apps, individuals receiving unwanted sexual content from others, feeling coerced or forced to send sexual content to others online, and Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), which is also called child pornography. It also impacts adults in many ways such as being sent unwanted sexual content, being asked to send sexual content, ignoring clear boundaries, and coercive communication.

If you are a parent looking to support your child in creating a safe space online, talk to them openly about the content they are viewing. Be sure to speak from a place of curiosity without judgement. Share an interest in what they find interesting. Many kids will be happy to talk about the things that they find interesting, and it will help them to feel seen and understood.  Educate your children about how to stay safe online by talking about what is and is not appropriate content, how to report inappropriate content, and how to speak up to you about seeing something that feels inappropriate. 

How can we facilitate a safe space online for ourselves and our loved ones? For ourselves, we can start by being mindful of the content that we intentionally engage with. We can use social media intentionally by liking, commenting on, and following pages that feel safe and enjoyable. We can block, mute, unfriend, or unfollow people or pages that post harmful or invasive content. We can take time away from social media and the online world by intentionally turning our devices at night and engaging in activities that feel mindful and promote feelings of peace and calm. 

If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can create a safe online space for yourself in many ways, such as:

Connect with a support group, online or in person. You can find a directory of support groups for sexual assault survivors by going here: https://www.211oc.org/sexual-abuse-support-groups.html 

RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incent National Network) hosts The National Sexual Assault Hotline, which also has an online chat option. You can contact the hotline at 800-656-HOPE(4673) or utilize the online chat function by going here: https://rainn.org/ 

Engage in a movement practice that support healing. A great resource for survivors is the organization Transcending Sexual Trauma Through Yoga, which trains individuals in providing trauma informed yoga and offers an 8-week class program, which is also being offered virtiually. You can find more information by going here: http://www.zabieyamasaki.com/about/transcending-sexual-trauma-through-yoga 

Listen to podcasts that provide support in healing from sexual assault. You can find more information by going here: https://unapologeticallysurviving.com/rec/podcasts/ 

Listen to podcasts that provide education on sexual assault. You can find more information by going here: https://www.nsvrc.org/podcasts

Connect with online communities that support sexual assault survivors. You can find more information by going here: https://www.womenslaw.org/find-help/national/chats-and-message-boards 

Follow social media pages that support survivors in their healing. One amazing example of social media accounts that promote healing for survivors is @speakoutcuse on Instagram. You can find their page here: https://www.instagram.com/speakoutcuse/ and you can read an amazing written about how this page is empowering BIPOC survivors by going here: https://www.thenewshouse.com/off-campus/can-the-internet-bring-salvation-to-survivors-of-color/ 

Find supportive resources online. Metoo published A Toolkit for Survivors During Covid-19. You can find more information by going here: https://metoomvmt.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/MeToo-COVID-Response_TOOLKIT.pdf

Child Abuse Awareness Month

Child Abuse Awareness Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about the prevalence of child abuse, provide prevention and early intervention to child abuse, provide assessment and reporting tools, and develop resources to help children and families heal from child abuse. 

What is child abuse? The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines child abuse as “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation [ ]; or an act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

According to The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, section 104, “the definition of “child abuse” … include[s] human trafficking and the production of child pornography and authorizes grants to develop and implement specialized programs to identify and provide direct services to victims of child pornography.”

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau published The Child Maltreatment Report 2019 with information from National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, which includes data about child abuse reporting, victims and perpetrators of child abuse, fatalities due to child abuse, risk factors for child abuse, pre and post reporting services, and data on sex trafficking. Below is a list of data found in The Child Maltreatment Report 2019.

Who made child abuse reports:

  • 68.6% of reports made for alleged child abuse and neglect were made by professionals, such as social services professionals, medical professionals, school professionals, police officers and lawyers. 

Who are the victims of child abuse?

  • 9.4 per 1,000 girls in the population
  • 8.4 per 1,000 boys in the population
  • 28.1% of victims are under 2 years old

Who perpetrates child abuse?

  • 77.5% of perpetrators are a parent to the victim
  • 83% of perpetrators are between the ages of 18 and 44
  • 53% of perpetrators are female and 46.1% are male
  • 48.9% of perpetrators are White, 21.1% are African American, and 19.7% are Hispanic

Prenatal Child Abuse:

  • 38,625 infants were reported to CPS due to prenatal substance exposure across 47 states in 2019

Fatalities Due to Child Abuse:

  • 34.3% of children who died by child abuse had at least 1 prior CPS contact within 5 years of their death

Risk Factors for Child Abuse:

  • Alcohol abuse in a caregiver
  • Drug abuse in a caregiver
  • Financial Problems
  • Inadequate Housing
  • Families in need of Public Assistance
  • Any Caregiver Disability, including Intellectual Disability, Emotional Disturbance, Visual or Hearing Impairment, Learning Disability, Physical Disability, and Other Medical Condition.

Services Obtained Pre and Post Child Abuse Report:

  • The average time for CPS to respond to a child abuse report is 102 hours (4.3 days), with a median response time of 64 hours (2.7 days)
  • 1,902,429 children and families received Child Abuse Prevention Services across 47 states in 2019
  • 1,279,364 child and families received services from a CPS agency after a report was made

Reports of Sex Trafficking as Child Abuse:

  • 877 unique victims of sex trafficking were reported across 29 states in 2109

 

If you are a mandated reported that needs resources to file a child abuse report, here are the Child Abuse Report Hotline numbers for Southern California. A comprehensive list of all of the Child Abuse Reporting Hotlines for each counties within California can be found at: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/reporting/report-abuse/child-protective-services/report-child-abuse 

Los Angeles County (800)-540-4000 – Within CA
(213)-639-4500 – Outside CA
(800)-272-6699 – TDD
Online Reporting:
https://reportChildAbuseLA.org
 
Orange County (714)-940-1000
(800)-207-4464
Riverside County (800)-442-4918
(877)-922-4453
San Diego County (858)-560-2191
(800)-344-6000

 

References

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). About CAPTA: A legislative history. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. Available from https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/about.pdf

Cornyn, John (2015). S.178 – 114th Congress (2015-2016): Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. Available from www.congress.gov.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2021). Child Maltreatment 2019. Available from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/research-data-technology/ statistics-research/child-maltreatment.

Tips for Parents to Help Pandemic-Stressed Kids

Tips for Parents to Help Pandemic-Stressed Kids

Adults aren’t the only ones feeling sad and anxious these days. Here’s how to help kids cope.

Just as it did for adults, life changed in unimaginable ways for children and teens during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote learning, canceled activities and lockdowns were necessary to slow the spread of the virus. But these restrictions, as well as a heightened sense of fear and uncertainty, have been causing children to feel anxious, depressed and even suicidal over the last year.

Mental health related emergency room visits have risen significantly for people under age 18 during the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When the same time periods in 2020 and 2019 were compared, visits increased by 24% for kids ages 5-11 and 31% for those ages 12-17. These numbers are an indication of mental health emergencies, but many children’s mental health has suffered to some extent over the past year, even if a trip to the ER wasn’t needed.

There are a number of reasons this pandemic has wreaked havoc on the mental health of kids, teens and young adults (as well as older adults). These include:

  • Lack of routine. As much as we may complain about routines, they give people of all ages – and especially kids – a sense of stability and security. Before the pandemic, kids knew what to expect each day, between school, after-school commitments and family activities. Now with so many things canceled and guidelines changing from day to day, it’s hard to follow a regular routine.
  • Social isolation. Kids and teens are social creatures. Many schools have relied on remote or hybrid instruction. Even if kids are in school, they’re not able to interact with others as they used to. Add to that the fact that kids and teens haven’t been able to hang out with their friends or be part of teams, clubs or other groups. Often they can’t visit with grandparents and other family members. This lack of social connection can have a major effect on their mental health.
  • Fear and worry. Everyone is feeling the strain brought about by this pandemic. People worry about those they love getting sick from the virus. Parents have lost jobs. It may feel like things will never be normal again. There’s a lot to be concerned about these days, and adults aren’t the only ones doing the worrying. Kids are worried, too – and they often overhear adult conversations, which can add to their concerns.

How Parents Can Help

Life is slowly returning to some sense of normalcy as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean things will immediately – or ever – return to the way they were before the pandemic. And if your child or teen has been struggling with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues during the last year, they won’t just go away either. But here are a few things parents can do to help:

  • Stick to routines. Although the only constant seems to be change these days, try to stick to routines as much as possible. If kids are still learning remotely, make sure they’re following a schedule throughout the day. If activities are resuming, create new routines so kids know what to expect. Putting activities or deadlines on a calendar may help.
  • Encourage social connection. By now, you’ve likely found new ways for your kids to socialize – whether through virtual parties or socially-distanced outdoor get-togethers. Although these types of social interaction may be getting boring by now, keep them up as much as possible. As restrictions ease, encourage children to get back to social activities they used to enjoy.
  • Emphasize the future. This past year has certainly been rough, but things are getting better. Help your child focus on the good times ahead by planning an outing or vacation together. Talk about the activities they can enjoy this summer, as well as new extracurricular activities or sports that might be fun to try.
  • Look for signs of trouble. Bedwetting, clinginess and sleep disturbances may mean your preschooler isn’t coping well. Nightmares, poor concentration and withdrawal from friends may indicate problems in elementary-age children, according to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). The NASP lists sleeping and eating disturbances, conflicts, delinquent behavior and agitation among the signs that teenagers are struggling.
  • Seek professional help if needed. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health and things don’t seem to be improving, get in touch with a mental health professional who is experienced in treating children or teens.

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The Journey Here: The Rise of AAPI Racism

The Journey Here: The Rise of AAPI Racism

It is not news to report that we, as a society, have been experiencing an immense amount of fear, confusion, and frustration this year. We have and are still navigating the unpredictable measures related to COVID-19 and reinventing our daily norms at a moment’s notice. Even though our nation has been under attack by this contagion for over a year now, it has shed light on another contagion that plagued us well before COVID-19: our nation’s history with racism and hate crimes, specifically related to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. In this 3 part series, I will begin by sharing a few statistics from this year’s uptick in AAPI hate crimes and practical ways one can engage in support our AAPI community. Then, I will share my experience with racism and my journey of finding my racial identity. Finally, I will end the series by sharing TheraCare’s value in providing an all- inclusive therapeutic experience for all who are seeking support.

On January 28, 2021, Vicha Ratanapakdee was taking his morning stroll in San Francisco, CA. He was pushed to the ground in broad daylight resulting in injuries. He died a few days later. This is just one incident that received media attention amongst many hate crimes towards Asian Americans this year. According to the STOP AAPI HATE (an organization documenting anti-Asian hate in the midst of COVID-19) National Report, there have been 3,795 incidents received from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021.  Out of the 3,9975 cases, 503 cases reported just in the beginning of 2021. The majority of these cases reported as verbal harassments and shunning as main forms of discrimination (68.1% and 20.5 %, respectively). Moreover, women are 2.3 times more than men to report cases. I also wonder if an aspect of under-reporting is impacted by cultural standards/ influences of “saving face” and gender role expectations.. There has also been a signifiant difference between various Asian communities experiencing these hate crimes. The Chinese community is the largest community to experience hate (42.2%), followed by Koreans (14.8%), Vietnamese (8.5%), and Filipino (7.9%). In many major cities, AAPI hate crimes have increased to at least 50 % (see graph below).

These statistics and stories may lead you to feel lots of different emotions: despair, heartache, anger, and/or activated in some type of way. Fear not (!), there are some practical ways to hopefully provide some helpful tips around supporting your AAPI community:

    1. Stay Curious
  • I believe a strong way to support the AAPI community is simply to stay curious about their experiences in their community. If they are feeling the weight of their experiences of discrimination and racism, ask if there is something you can do directly to support them. Try not to assume that everyone in the AAPI community needs or wants help at the moment. The best, most powerful act that we can do for one another is to listen.

2. Support an AAPI organization/ local businesses

  • Here are some AAPI organizations that you could monetarily support and/or volunteer at:
  • https://stopaapihate.org– Organization that is tracking anti- Asian hate during COVID-19
  • https://aaci.org– Non-profit mental health agency located in the heart of San Jose
  • https://dearasiansinitiative.carrd.co – Organization that works to bridge the gap between #BLM movement and anti- Blackness in the Asian community through translated letters to create unity amongst minorities.
  • https://www.advancingjustice-aajc.org

3. Be an ally and educate yourself.

I will leave you with this. Amanda Nguyen, a social entrepreneur and civil rights activist, eloquently said: “It’s important to not just compare issues across communities, but rather work together in solidarity, Justice is a fabric that has threads from all different communities.”

 

Sources:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/watch-live-how-to-address-the-surge-of-anti-asian-hate-crimes

https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/07/01/many-black-and-asian-americans-say-they-have -experienced-discrimination-amid-the-covid-19-outbreak/​.

https://www.voanews.com/usa/race-america/hate-crimes-targeting-asian-americans-spiked-150-major-us-cities

https://stopaapihate.org/reportsreleases/

Jennifer Nguyen, AMFT

Connection Seeking Not Attention Seeking

Connection Seeking Not Attention Seeking

The phrase “attention seeking” gets a bad rap. We hear “attention seeking” and think of vindictive or manipulative behaviors, particularly in children. We think that this means that the behavior the person is doing should be ignored or minimized. But what if we shifted our perspectives to look at behaviors as “connection seeking?” We all need connection. This feels normalized. This feels like part of the human experience. If we look at things this way, it can be an automatic response of “well, of course a child wants to feel connected.” If we could all take part in this paradigm shift, perhaps we can practice more compassion to others, particularly when they are engaging in connection seeking behaviors.

So how do we connect when our child within, or our literal children, feel disconnected? Children can feel disconnected for a variety of reasons, such as not feeling heard, not feeling special, not feeling seen, not feeling prioritized. We tend to minimize the needs and desires of children, literal and figurative.

I am passionate about working with children and adolescents, and I enjoy doing inner child work with adults. When we view connection seeking behaviors from the lens of a child, it seems natural that a child wants to have their need for connection to be met. How do we connect with children? Quality time, curiosity, bonding, physical affection. So how can we nourish our inner children by meeting our needs for connection?

  • Do something that you loved to do, or would have loved to do, as a child.
  • Listen to music that was popular during a younger time of your life.
  • Play a game or watch an episode of a show or a movie you loved as a child.
  • Write a letter to your inner child to show an interest in something that they loved.
  • Eat your favorite snack or meal that you loved as a child
  • Ask your inner child to write or draw about a difficult memory and attempt to practice putting yourself in the shoes of your child within to see things from their perspective, not your adult perspective

If you have children in your life and want to discover more ways to form connections with them, here are some ideas on how to make that happen while fostering creativity and feeling heard:

  • Play a game together without screens like a board game or a game involving being outside
  • Tell stories of when you were their same age or of your family’s heritage or culture
  • Cook or bake together
  • Finger paint, color, draw, or create another form of art together
  • Do DIY projects together and let them take the lead
  • Show an interest in something that is interesting to them by asking them to explain it to you
  • Ask them to show you their favorite song, tv show or YouTube channel
  • Read a story together or write a story together

The most important connection building activity to do with a child is to express genuine curiosity and interest and listen with the intent to understand their experience versus teach. Spend this quality time together without distractions, with screens off, with the focus being on giving undivided attention and connection to the child.

Alejandra Rose, LMFT