health care,
education and
social services

health care,
education  and
social services

Preventing Child Abuse, Protecting a Generation

by Maria Gomez, President and CEO of Mary’s Center

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, but at Mary’s Center, prevention of child abuse and neglect happens every day.  When we look at the shameful rate of 9 to 18 out of 1,000 children being abused and neglected in our region, there is never too much that any one public or private agency can do to protect our most precious asset – our next generation. 

Mary’s Center addresses health care, while tackling poverty, poor education, past trauma, immigration, racism and other basic concerns. When individuals feel positive about themselves, they can develop relationships that are based on mutual respect and equal contributions to the well-being of the child they raise together.

Our Social Change Model of keeping families healthy, supported throughout their lifecycle events and moving up the economic ladder through education and job training, is breaking the cycle of violence, preventing hundreds of children from ever being neglected or abused each year. 

For those families who come to us already in crisis, we offer five intensive strategies: services to the entire family delivered in their home, parent groups where they learn from each other, parent and child interactive therapy, mental health services to tackle depression during and right after birth, and screening and services to conquer domestic violence.

The signs of child abuse fall into the categories of Neglect, Physical Abuse and Sexual Abuse.

·         Neglect occurs when parents or caretakers do not provide proper supervision, control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care necessary for healthy development.

·         Physical abuse is non-accidental injury of a child by a parent or caretaker.

·         Sexual abuse is exploitation of a child for the sexual gratification of an adult or older child.

One thing to remember: many professions are mandated reporters, including healthcare workers, teachers, and police officers; however, as citizens, if we suspect child abuse or neglect, we should report. The child welfare systems have grown in their resources and strategies to support families in staying together whenever it is safe for the child. Mary’s Center believes that it all starts with helping couples plan for their children, in a loving and well-resourced home.  Regardless of economic circumstance, child abuse and neglect happens way too often.  If you need help, reach out early.  Keep your eyes and ears open, when in doubt report it, and most importantly, extend support to your own family, friends, and neighbors so that they don’t become part of this horrific statistic.

If you think you or someone you love may be a victim of abuse, it's important to get help. Mary's Center has many professionals that can help. Contact us today.

Maria  Gomez, President and CEO of Mary's Center

About Maria Gomez

Maria S. Gomez is the Founder of Mary’s Center, a community health organization that provides health care, education and social services in the DC metropolitan region. Under Maria’s leadership, Mary’s Center has grown from an initial budget of $250,000, serving 200 participants at a basement in 1988 to an annual budget of $45 million, serving over 40,000 individuals at six locations and two mobile units in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Learn more about Maria.



Useful Links

Report Child Abuse and Neglect (DC Government)

Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect (Maryland Government)

Child Maltreatment Statistics (Maryland)

Data on Child and Family Well-Being in the United States from Kids Count


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