Child abuse has many forms. It can be a physical attack, child neglect, or emotional or sexual abuse, and it often leaves lifelong scars. April has been designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) seeks to raise the awareness of this horrific crime and its outcomes.
According to experts, most abused and neglected children never come to the attention of governmental authorities, which is particularly true for neglected and sexually abused children, who may not exhibit physical signs of harm. In the case of sexual abuse, secrecy and intense feelings of shame may prevent children, and adults who may be aware of the abuse, from seeking help.
Sadly, most children who are sexually abused are abused by a family member or close friend, and "stranger danger" is quite rare. In fact, the perpetrator is more likely to be someone in the child’s everyday life.
All types of child abuse and neglect can leave lasting scars. Some of these scars may be physical, but emotional scarring can also have long lasting effects; damaging a child’s sense of self-worth, the ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at school and at work. Child abuse can happen in all neighborhoods and in all families; it crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines.
Child abuse victims many times suffer from a lack of trust and relationship difficulties; core feelings of being “worthless” or “damaged.” Sexual abuse survivors, internalizing the feeling of stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often struggle socially and have trouble regulating their emotions.
This is where CalVCP comes in. CalVCP is committed to helping these young victims get the counseling and other services they need to help them recover. We are committed to helping all victims of child abuse regain their voice and take control of their futures. While we can’t give back the innocence that so many have lost, we can help them to heal and be a voice to stop child abuse from happening in the future.
Anna M. Caballero serves Governor Jerry Brown as a cabinet member and as Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency. She is responsible for the oversight of departments charged with civil rights enforcement, consumer protection, and licensure for 2.4 million working professionals. She has served in state and local government as Mayor of Salinas, as a city council member for fifteen years, and in the California State Assembly for four years. Prior to her election to the Assembly, Caballero established Partners for Peace, a nonprofit organization dedicated to youth violence prevention in Salinas.