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Strengthening Idaho Families to Prevent Child Abuse

The Strengthening Families Training Institute conference on preventing child abuse starts today in Boise. (Bigandt Photography/iStockphoto)
The Strengthening Families Training Institute conference on preventing child abuse starts today in Boise. (Bigandt Photography/iStockphoto)
March 15, 2016

BOISE, Idaho - About 200 children's advocates will gather today and tomorrow in Boise for the 17th annual Strengthening Families Training Institute.

The conference will cover a range of topics. Paula Sellars, a conference speaker and author of the Stewards of Children program with the group Darkness to Light, will explain how to encourage bystanders to find the courage to come forward when they suspect a child needs help.

"Making a report is not making an accusation of abuse," she said. "It's asking for service providers to look into what a child may need, what services parents may need, to deal with the stresses in their lives."

Authorities in Idaho received more than 16,000 referrals for abuse and neglect in 2013, and launched almost 7,500 investigations. Federal statistics show that one in 10 children is a victim of sexual abuse.

Another seminar covers the Crying Baby Plan, which is used by all of Idaho's birthing hospitals to help parents learn to control their own emotions when a baby is wailing. Roger Sherman, executive director of the Idaho Children's Trust Fund, the state affiliate of Prevent Child Abuse America, said shaken-baby syndrome is the leading cause of non-accidental and non-illness-related death for infants younger than one year of age. He said parents can learn coping skills.

"No baby ever died from crying, and that baby will be fine," he said. "You've got to calm yourself down and then go back and soothe the baby, and deal with the impact of crying, so that you never hurt your baby unintentionally."

The conference. sponsored by the Idaho Children's Trust Fund, is intended as the kickoff for Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.

Conference information is online at idahochildrenstrustfund.org. Idaho statistics are at cwla.org. Information on the Darkness to Light Program is at d2l.org. Information on The Crying Plan is at cryingbabyplan.org.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID