Child-abuse awareness classes to foster prevention among parents

In order to deal with various child welfare and safety issues, the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension plans a series of classes to raise awareness about abuse.

“The program was designed to prevent some of the problems caused by parents before it happens,” said Dr. Yaebin Kim, an assistant professor at UNLV who also works with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. “Parenting classes can help parents acquire and internalize parenting and problem-solving skills necessary to build a healthy family and prevent child abuse and neglect.”

Even though the classes are expected to help parents, Kim said garnering public awareness of these issues in general is needed.

Classes are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Valley View Recreation Center, 500 Harris St., Henderson.

The courses are scheduled each Wednesday for four weeks and are expected to go over topics ranging from shaken baby syndrome to anger management to positive guidance for parents.

“More parents need to understand their child’s developmental needs by taking parenting education classes,” Kim said. “Sometimes, parents over-expect of their own kids. Parents’ over-expectation can become pressure for kids.”

Clark County had 7,450 reports — out of 11,883 statewide — of child abuse and neglect reports in the state in 2010, Kim said.

“It was 14 percent higher than 2007,” she said. “Moreover, 50 percent of child abuse and neglect victims were children under 5.”

Nationally, shaken baby syndrome is the leading cause of child abuse deaths in the United States, Kim said.

Kim said a solution, going off the findings of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, is educating parents.

“When we provided a session about shaken baby syndrome, more than 70 percent of parents did not hear about shaken baby syndrome before,” she said. “In addition, many parents don’t understand how bad emotional abuse can be.”

Olga Soto, a community outreach specialist, is scheduled to teach these classes: session 1 on shaken baby; session 2 on child abuse awareness; session 3 on anger management; and session 4 on positive guidance.

Soto has taught these classes in the past.

“Each class is a little different,” Soto said. “Sometimes, I get parents who like to share their experiences.”

She added that she likes to use parents’ experiences and stories to help the flow of the class.

But talking about child abuse is just part of the solution, which is why the other classes are expected to address anger management and offer positive tips for parents.

“Research shows that shaking or child abuse often occurs in response to children crying or other factors that can trigger the person caring for children to become frustrated or angry,” Kim said. “To prevent that, we also provide anger management and positive guidance sessions, too.”

Soto added that the positive guidance helps parents apply the lessons from the other classes.

This program is something the community wants, Kim said.

Tips to keep children safe and healthy was among topics that the community was interested in, Kim said, referring to the findings of a 2011 parenting and education needs assessment conducted by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

This is just one step to creating awareness on the risk factors of child abuse, Kim said.

“Although prevention will not stop all problems and behaviors, it is expected that knowledge about the dangers of shaking babies and abusing children will reduce risk,” Kim said.

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Contact Henerson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at or 702-387-5201.


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