Despite having one of the lowest rates of child abuse in the state, child abuse remains a huge problem in Sonoma County. According to the most recent numbers from the group Prevent Child Abuse-Sonoma County, last year there were more than 5000 reports of child abuse and nearly 200 kids were removed from unsafe homes.
"Many experts say that actually the numbers that we see are just what they call the tip of the iceberg," says Robin Bowen, executive director of the California Parenting Institute. "There are lots more cases that never come up, that are never reported. [It is] the hidden epidemic."
Decades of research link traumatic and abusive childhood experiences with difficulties in later life, such as physical and mental health problems. But, though it is difficult to build a healthy independent life after a childhood of abuse, Jessica, an employee at VOICES Sonoma says it is by no means impossible. "Many kids here are determined not just to become another statistic," she says. VOICES serves thousands of youth, each year, who are transitioning from foster care, group homes, mental health facilities or probation and making the transition into adulthood. Learn more about their work here.
A Reference Guide of Family Support Services, collected by the California Parenting Institute [PDF].