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The need is urgent: Invest in our abused and neglected children

Lipschultz, Charlotte Johnson and Daniel Reardon
The authors, from left to right: Brian Lipschultz, Charlotte Johnson and Daniel Reardon

Here are some startling statistics that illustrate how child abuse has become an urgent health crisis: in 2014, deaths from child abuse and neglect exceeded deaths caused by childhood cancers. Nationally, 700,000 children were victims of child maltreatment in 2014, and Minnesota counties reported 70,000 cases of abuse and neglect that same year.

While those are alarming numbers, there is other, equally disconcerting data. In the U.S., we are facing a critical shortage of pediatricians who are specialty trained in child abuse. Nationally, there are 324; Minnesota has only four board-certified child abuse pediatricians in practice. Of those 324 pediatricians, 30 percent are over the age of 55. Clearly the need for trained specialists is paramount.

A multidisciplinary medical response

As a responsive grantmaking organization, we listen carefully to those in communities we serve, strive to understand the range of solutions that can be applied to a problem, and seek partners that have the best resources to improve and impact lives. That led us to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and the ground-breaking work they are doing to develop a multidisciplinary medical response to treat victims of child abuse and neglect.

In collaboration with colleagues at Hennepin County Medical Center and Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, they have developed the first regional program of its kind providing a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to clinical care for children and adolescents experiencing abuse and neglect. Today, it serves as a leader in providing a much needed specialty resource for our region, serving more than 350 children and families annually.

Through a $2.5 million grant, we hope the Otto Bremer Trust Center for Safe and Healthy Children will be transformative in providing a financial foundation to help treat abused and neglected children, educate the next generation of child abuse pediatricians, and provide telehealth educational and clinical support for medical providers and community partners throughout the region.

Pediatric fellowship program

The center will lead the child abuse pediatric fellowship program – the only one in Minnesota, North Dakota, or South Dakota – which trains future leaders in the field. A relatively new subspecialty, child abuse pediatrics focuses on diagnosing and treating children and adolescents who are suspected victims of any form of child maltreatment. These physicians work closely with law enforcement, child welfare, the judicial system, and community agencies on the health, safety and well-being of children.

We believe the center’s work is a natural fit with our own mission of being responsive to community needs and investing in people and programs that are having an impact in addressing critical social issues. We also hope that by making this investment, we will inspire other individuals and organizations to see that value in the work the center is doing and step forward to help provide support of its important mission.

Charlotte Johnson, Brian Lipschultz and Daniel Reardon are co-CEOs and trustees, Otto Bremer Trust. In 2015, Otto Bremer Trust, St. Paul, awarded more than $45 million in grants and program-related investments to more than 500 organizations in the region.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Carol Kohlberg on 04/09/2016 - 08:04 pm.

    Child Abuse is an epedemic.

    I think this is amazing and it is a great start. We need trauma informed doctors of all sorts. I am a mother of special needs kids. Our kids were adopted in 2008 via Foster Care. They have a lot of trauma due to the extensive abuse etc…

    We have spent 1000’s of hours looking for qualified therapists, doctors. Trying to educate them on everything from ADHD to RAD to FASD. It is a never ending process.

    Child neglect and abuse is an epidemic, and it seems that is has not been a priority.

    Carol Kohlberg

  2. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 04/10/2016 - 11:05 am.

    Child abuse is more rampant maybe, but…

    There was an “epidemic’ of child abuse way back in the fifties and before that:

    I could tell you stories:
    I remember when documented cases of abuse but denial or careful planning whatever were given a slap on the wrist. I say it with some experience from the age of five when mother started caring for so many and say too, that administration types too often hid the stories from the public eye…too often nothing but a hearing and a slap of the hand for such abuse; even if it was a director in a public institution…yes, there were a few.

    . Mother had a foster home; too many children to count where every child was ours to love although their stay was sometimes too, too brief.

    Let’s take one child; one baby I call her Little LInda. Not her name but who was left on a cold closet shelf to die by mother, parents…so I am home from college Spring break if I recall correctly. I see the new baby, sad, tragic; looked like a concentration camp victim…bone infection so deep the hospital healed her wounds and placed her with “all we can do, may never walk with that condition. Hope she makes it”

    Human will even in the very young is amazing at times…within a few months year and a half now, Linda walked and ran and one spirited picture I cherish still, she looking like a Gerber Baby. sliding down the park slide and skipping with glee. Soon adopted through a private group with a younger brother who came after Both of them hopefully have achieved a rewarding life…yet no one held accountable back then?

    Just a bad state of administrative justice happened in the fifties, eyes closed in denial I assume..sweeping it all under the rug, too often a long time ago?

    Do welcome that North Dakota shares in these positive changes.

    It happened then and it happens now but at least abuse is recognized and care is given a greater considerations plus abusers are held accountable? I applaud this new program.

    This gives me hope the picture is changing…

  3. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 04/10/2016 - 05:30 pm.

    And then again…

    … hold back any applause for this organization which a philanthropy watchdog group investigated in 2014 for excessive payments to the trinity directorship in the above picture.

    Can’t trust anyone nowadays…be it the Bremer group or the watch dog group? Could be everybody in charge wants their bang for the buck I suppose…and what dwindles down to the child abuse program? Cleared of alleged charges maybe, but still hangs like an albatross?

    If one asks for funds for a child abuse program and the profit motive is a problem, that too is a form of abuse with child used or abused as in a secondary situation?

    So, who do you trust here and who represents the philanthropy watchdog foundation…watching the watchdog watching the watch dog watching child abuse? Can’t help wondering, fundraising for whom?

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