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Did you know eight of every 1,000 Texas kids are victims of child abuse?
Sadly, that number is even higher in certain parts of San Antonio.
That includes San Antonio’s District 5, a largely Latino district on the West Side where families struggle with domestic violence, pregnancy, and other trauma, according to Texas Public Radio.
Shirley Gonzales, the City Council representative for District 5, wanted to help.
Gonzales teamed with Victoria Salas of Family Service Association to find an innovative way—promotoras—to prevent trends that lead to child abuse.
The Need for Child Abuse Prevention
Across the U.S., 78% of Latino kids suffer at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE), such as poverty, neglect, and child abuse, according to a recent Salud America! research review.
Latino kids exposed to child abuse and other traumas have a higher risk of future health issues and poor school performance.
Gonzales learned that two zip codes in her district, 78207 and 78228, had shockingly high rates of child abuse.
“I just had a baby two months ago, I’m the only mother on the council, and the only member of the council that has young children,” Gonzales told TPR. “So this was something I felt we had to tackle.”
Using Promotores to Stem Child Abuse
Gonzales worked with Victoria Salas of Family Service Association to create a new pilot program.
“The Promotoras Child Abuse Prevention Initiative will employ the use of nonprofessional, trained community members known as ‘promotoras,’ who provide basic health care education to the community,” writes Norma Martinez of TPR.
Community promotoras will attend a 12-week training in child abuse prevention, and parenting and nurturing. They will even earn a certificate to enable them to pursue careers in child welfare, San Antonio News 4 reports. The training will be paid through city’s budget thanks to the leadership of Gonzales.
“We know that hearing from your friend, hearing from your comadre, hearing from your mom is much more impactful than hearing from a professional who you may not have any bond with,” Gonzales told TPR.
Gonzales said she is thankful that the city is taking the steps to address the issue of child abuse, according to a public address of the approval of the FY2018 budget.
Promotoras give District 5 a chance to promote healthier children and families, with less child abuse.
“We know that this particular model, the promotoras program, is the most effective way to deal with issues like [the ones that lead to child abuse],” Gonzales told San Antonio News 4.
I just had a baby two months ago, I’m the only mother on the council, and the only member of the council that has young children. So this was something I felt we had to tackle.Shirley Gonzales
San Antonio City Council