The community we are creating an intervention plan for is the great capital city of Pennsylvania known as Harrisburg.
Within the community we have decided to focus on the social problem of child abuse and neglect. This issue is not just an issue that is happening in Harrisburg, but it is a large-scale problem happening all over the world. Statistics have shown that highest rates for victims of child abuse and neglect in Harrisburg are for children between the ages of 0-3, and about 1,200 children have died due to being abused and neglected (Crime Watch of Dauphin County, 2018).
Many families find themselves involved in child abuse and neglect towards their own children due to themselves experiencing poor childhoods, the lack of emotional support, various crises, and substance abuse problems (Fight Child Abuse, 2016). There are many good and services offered to the citizens of Harrisburg, PA through the Block Grant that helps families who are suffering and dealing with child abuse and neglect within their homes (Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, 2018). Literature Review Evidenced Based Interventions Addressing child abuse and neglect using evidenced based interventions has proven scientific research and documented results in designing community programs to take action towards improving statistics. The statistics are staggering; just in the U.S. more than two million reports of child maltreatment have been reported in the last two decades (Ingram, Cash, Oats, Simpson, & Thompson, 2013). Evidenced based interventions have shown that engaging parents in the intervention process through developing parenting skills, providing alternatives to discipline, and helping the whole person through addressing the multiple stressors that parents face are effective and possible to offer on a large scale.
Without engaging parents, the evidence-based interventions cannot create a foundation at the family level of change and improvement of child treatment (Ingram, et al., 2013). At risk children and families that received evidence-based interventions in the home and through community supports with a strong emphasis on building parenting skills were found to have large improvements at the six month follow up. The results indicated that 97% of the families’ basic needs were being met, 95% had improved school attendance, 93% reported reduced crime committed by children, 91% were intact families, and 89% had supportive resources in the community (Ingram, et al., 2013). The evidenced based interventions strongly support that building parenting skills drastically reduced negative parenting behaviors (Lanier, Kohl, Benz, Swinger, ; Drake, 2012). Follow up reports at 28 months found that the number of families that repeated the child abuse or neglect was down to 15%, and the higher risk families showed greater improvement in overall functioning as well as parent-child interactions. The studies indicated reports of lower parental stress, improved child behavior, and improved self-motivation among parents (Lanier, et al.
, 2012).For the city of Harrisburg, using evidenced based interventions could help to stop the cycle of abuse as it insidiously trickles from one generation to the next. Providing evidence-based interventions that engage the parents and build on their skills would be easily adapted to the community and improving the community as a whole.
Parental enhancement is one evidence-based intervention plan that offers programs and trainings for previously abused parents who are now placing their hurt onto their children through child abuse and neglect. “Most parental enhancement programs focus on training abusive parents in child management (e.g., effective discipline), childrearing (e.g., infant stimulation), and self-control skills (e.g., anger control)” (Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect, 1993, p.
262). This intervention approach helps to minimize abuse and re-abuse within the homes by offering services to the parents helping with child management, along with the other skills listed. The University of Kansas (2015), talks more about helping parents practice prevention within their homes. Most parents desire this help but are not sure how to go about receiving the help or know where to go to find the help (Section 8. Helping Parents Practice Prevention with Their Children and Teens, para. 4). Community Based Interventions Addressing child abuse and neglect within the community by engaging the community considers mandated reporters, individuals that work with children, and members of the community that have no obligation to report child abuse and neglect. Studies found that abuse and neglect are most reported by members of the community that are not mandated reporters.
Understanding characteristics of this dynamic is critical to creating a community-based intervention. The literature suggests that a characteristic of helping behavior is reduced in the presence of bystanders because of the perception of diffusing responsibility for action (Fledderjohann ; Johnson, 2012). Therefore, in creating a community intervention plan it will be necessary to increase perception of individual responsibility as well as community responsibility. Boehm ; Cnaan (2012), stress the level of community involvement model.
This model would give the community that responsibility to act on the issue (p. 148) This study found that a community that has a positive perception of child protection services as well as how they define maltreatment increases the community involvement and community-based interventions (Fledderjohann ; Johnson, 2012). The study also found that the key to reporting child maltreatment, and thus reducing it in the community, involved knowledge of how to detect child maltreatment, how to report it, what are the consequences, and the degree of perceived danger to the child.
The study also found that women have a higher likelihood of reporting due to societal expectations to be empathetic and attentive to others’ needs (Fledderjohann & Johnson, 2012). Additionally, the perception of community attachment was important to determining whether an individual acted on intervening in child maltreatment. The more significant interpersonal interactions an individual has with the community the more likely they are to report maltreatment. Also, the higher the social cohesion within a community will determine the likelihood of preventing child maltreatment because of the overlap of social roles within the community. If individuals are aware that their actions are known throughout the community they are more inclined to intervene in child maltreatment cases (Fledderjohann & Johnson, 2012). Community based interventions focus more on the interactions of social networks around the family. Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (1979) informs us on how the environmental systems affect and influence the individual through macro-, micro-, and meso-systems. Therefore, community-based interventions use ecological theory to target community interactions to lessen the prevalence of child abuse and neglect.
Studies found that interventions that addressed the community health affected child maltreatment. Social cohesion, social control, social networks and support, residential stability, economic stability, unemployment rate and poverty rate were all influencers in the degree of child abuse in the community. Specifically, the more social cohesion and social support offered the less family isolation and family stress was found (van Dijken, Stams, ; de Winter, 2016). This study also found that community-based interventions that aimed to reduce child abuse and neglect by focusing on all families in the community through social connection, developing parenting skills and resilience, and increasing emotional support. It reduced isolation among families and increased knowledge and ability to ask for help among parents. The community members networked with professionals to increase positive outcomes for families and reduce the need to target individuals.
The authors found community interventions to be effective in strengthening the entire community and reducing the high rates of child abuse and neglect (van Dijken, et al., 2016). One great strategy to help better promote community strength would be organization for locality development. This strategy, if properly utilized, will help “..
..to solve its own problems by learning skills such as group facilitation and critical thinking that are crucial to community work….” (University of Kansas, 2015, What are effective strategies in community organization?, para. 2).
Crisis Interventions Crisis intervention approaches are the most common and have been in use for many decades. Crisis interventions are somewhat reactionary as they deal with clients in the midst of a crisis when their resources and coping skills are overwhelmed by a situation or event. Studies have found that this is a critical period to reach parents to convince them they are capable of change and they have the tools and resources to make a positive change (U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, 1994). According to Parikh and Morris (2011), 90% of adults experience some type of crisis at one point or another in their lives. Major crises that adults experience can come from family situations, economic situations, community dysfunction, significant life events such as the birth of a child, and natural disasters (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1994). The purpose of a crisis intervention model is to help individuals become problem solving oriented.
Parents can find themselves in a crisis dealing with multiple stressors such as raising young children, living in poverty, being socially isolated, having little parenting knowledge, and poor problem-solving skills. Often in this state of crisis, a parent turns to poor coping mechanisms as well such as alcohol or substances and create more of a problem. Individuals presenting in crisis, such as with a child neglect or abuse report, are typically feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, confused, anxious, and with few supportive relationships. These feelings cause the individual to become impulsive and feel more vulnerable. Crisis intervention leverages this acute time frame to introduce new coping skills and problem-solving techniques (Parikh and Morris, 2011). “If help is not available when a family is open to new ways of coping, family members may sink deeper into maladaptive patterns such as more violence, heavier substance abuse, deeper withdrawal, or more destructive scapegoating. Under such circumstances, there is increased risk of child abuse and neglect” (U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, 1994, p. xiii). Additionally, studies have found that a family in crisis identifies outside life stressors as the main cause for the current crisis, such as living in poverty, unemployment, violence in the neighborhood, and lack of access to child care and supportive services (Cowen, 2001).
Community Intervention PlanA community intervention plan would include various tools to address the problem of child abuse and neglect. The University of Kansas’ Community Toolbox (2015) provides a model of Collaborative Partnerships. The Collaborative Partnerships model improves the entire community by integrating professionals, parents, members of the community, teachers, businesses, and local and state governments. This model specifically encourages success in the community because bringing all parts of the community together is more likely to contribute to the overall health of the community. Defining the problem or issues and connecting others in the intervention results in lowered isolation in the community and infuses the helping characteristic to individuals that live in the community. A Collaborative Partnership would include evidence-based interventions, community-based interventions, and crisis interventions. The local and state governments are part of the front line of the partnerships in securing funds to aid the community, initiating programs to assist the community, responsible for growing business within the community to reduce unemployment and poverty. Local schools, faith communities, youth and health organizations all have a part in the Collaborative Partnership to providing social support and networking, recognizing child maltreatment and parental crisis, and connecting the helping characteristic of the community by engaging them and giving them a sense of responsibility about the community.
The Collaborative Partnership model has five steps. The first step is to understand the context of people’s experiences in the community and the influences that affect them such as financial resources, specifically poverty, and the broader political and social context they live in (University of Kansas, 2015). The collaborative partnership considers the issues that matter to the community and work to solve them. Bringing awareness to the community about the prevalence of child abuse and its main causes through a press release to the local newspapers and local news stations. Adding a layer of social media will target younger parents that primarily use these sources of information.
Accessing social media through community webpages, Twitter, and Facebook will allow individuals to access resources that may have been previously unknown to them. Bring knowledge and awareness of the problem and its need for a solution allows the community to plan the next steps. The second step is community action and intervention which gets the community involvement through interventions in child maltreatment and offers support, parental education, coping tools, and problem solving. Through the media outlets and press releases, a call to community action could be announced. Bringing the community together to increase knowledge about the problem and ask questions of community leaders. Individuals will feel more connection and responsibility towards their community and hold local and state governments responsible for funding programs and changing policies. The third step involves changing the systems in the community. Developing programs and changing policies to be family focused and providing the social support necessary for families in crisis is one way to provoke change.
Having a community voice on social media will improve the focus of changes that the community of Harrisburg specifically desires. Getting local organizations to provide more parenting support and child care options, as well as how to recognize the stressor on a family that lead to child abuse and neglect.The fourth step involves the result of these changes to social policies creates behavioral changes among individuals within the community.
These behavioral changes are protective factors against child abuse and neglect and reduce the rate of child maltreatment. Finally, the last step involves the ripple effect of outcomes due to the changes made to reduce child abuse and neglect. The effect of less child maltreatment results in improved community problems such as teen substance abuse, crime and delinquency among minors, and improvement in educational attainment and reduced costs to the community.