ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s a statewide problem. New Mexico is ranked last when it comes to child abuse, topping the charts when it comes to maltreatment and neglect of our children. Yet, one partnership is looking to change that. This weekend, they’ll hold a series of workshops for professionals and parents from across the state.
For three years, New Mexico Child Abuse Prevention Partnership has saved money to hold this conference. Their goal is to provide an opportunity for everyone from healthcare professionals to teachers to connect and, ultimately, come together to combat child abuse.
Psychologist Dr. Susan Miller has a saying.
“I believe we can prevent child abuse. It’s 100% preventable. It is a choice people make. It is not a disease,” said Miller.
But in New Mexico, it’s a choice many have made. In 2013, New Mexico had nearly 32,000 referrals for child abuse and neglect. That’s according to the Child Welfare League of America.
Just last month, a daycare worker was charged with child abuse, caught on camera shaking a six-month old. Earlier this year, a mother and two of her friends were accused of beating her 14-month-old baby to death. Cases like these are why New Mexico ranks last when it comes to child abuse.
“We do not need to be number 50, I would love us to be the best,” said Miller.
The executive director of New Mexico Child Abuse prevention partnership is passionate about her cause, confident New Mexico can turn the tables on the statewide problem through education and awareness.
Miller’s mission began when she worked in the inpatient rehab unit at UNM Hospital.
“We saw the worst of the worst child abuse cases on our unit and when I asked- these are babies, they have no voice, they can’t tell anybody stop- and when I went to my boss and I said, ‘please, is there anything we can do to prevent this? They said, ‘why don’t you do it?’ And I went, ‘oh, okay,'” explained Miller.
Her solution is simple.
“Just caring. It takes everybody to look and see what’s happening,” Miller said.
Several years later, New Mexico CAPP has grown to include 210 organizations throughout the state.
“We are just a group of people who care. We all volunteer,” said Miller.
Now, many of those people are coming together to share their role in the fight against child abuse.
“We want to see what you’re doing so that when I get stuck in what I’m doing I can say, ‘oh, I remember her,’ and I can give you a call and we can consult,” Miller explained.
New Mexico CAPP’s Train the Trainer Summit will feature 30 workshops, each hosted by an expert in his or her field. It’s a seminar three years in the making, one Miller hopes will be another step in breaking the cycle of child abuse.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Miller. “It’s a dream come true. I’m so excited.”
The conference kicks off Friday with opening remarks from CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson.