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Hi, my name is Julie Bowen and I’m addicted to helping children. Yes, I said it – but I am not ashamed! It’s just the way I was wired and my love for children started as early as 10 years old when I began babysitting and dreaming of becoming a nurturing mom myself someday.
As a pediatric nurse for 22 years – 9.5 here at Community Regional, I’ve seen things that I wish I never had. I’ve seen children so mistreated and abused and obviously byproducts of the most un-nurturing environments. Unfortunately, as nurses, we don’t get to pick our patients and at Community Regional, the Valley’s only Level 1 trauma center, we provide care to some of the most critically injured children – some of them severely abused, scared and heartbroken. Many of them know nothing else because it’s just their “normal”. When I watch the evening news and see a case of child abuse, I can’t help but wonder if that child will be another patient on my unit – or if my peers in the emergency room cared for that child.
My passion for helping children extends deeply to community outreach efforts to stop violence against children because it’s not normal, and adults do know better – or at least they should. I have been involved with First Five Fresno County for the past four years working on a committee to educate professionals about child abuse prevention. This year, there’s a focus to educate EVERYONE we can because here’s the shocking reality happening right here in our community:
An astonishing 19,000 child abuse reports are filed each year; 2,300 confirmed cases (because emotional abuse is difficult to confirm.) On an average, six cases of child abuse are filed per day in Fresno County and our hospital is likely to see those children needing medical treatment. Heartbreaking, isn’t it? If I could only wish upon a star, I would make each of those child abuse cases disappear – undo it – prevent it from ever happening to another child again.
The Lisa Project, a free interactive exhibit about child abuse prevention, is coming to Fresno with this mission from April 2 through May 4, 2014 on Tuesdays through Fridays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the campus of Central Unified School District. Six children will tell their story as the visitors make their way through the exhibit.
My hope is by educating people in our community about the different forms of child abuse, we as a community will speak up and do a better job of protecting our kids. I encourage you to visit this exhibit or even volunteer your time to help run the exhibit. The Lisa Project needs compassionate members of our community to step up and to speak up so please consider volunteering your time and please, speak up if you witness someone physically or verbally abusing a child — say something for that child and report it. If they treat their child like that in public, can you imagine how they are treated at home, behind the closed doors? Unfortunately, on the pediatric floor we see the results of what happens behind those closed doors and it’s sad – far beyond normal.
Abused children have a higher probability to perpetuate the cycle, becoming abusers themselves. We need to help break the cycle and promote a healthier Fresno County. We need to love and protect our children. You can start by sharing this blog right now.
By Julie Bowen, Manager Pediatric Unit
Community Medical Centers is a sponsor of the local Lisa Project. Nurses can gain clinical proficiency, helping them to climb the Registered Nurse Career Ladder at Community Medical Centers by donating their time to the Lisa Project for as little as 3 hours in the month of April. (Interested nurses, please see your manager about this RN Career Ladder opportunity.)