CARES Northwest believes that child abuse is preventable.  Most parents and caregivers want what is best for children in their care.  However, some lack the essential knowledge of child development and/or realistic expectations of behaviors that can help protectIMG_1670 children from being hurt.  Our Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) program helps strengthen families and protect children by providing free primary prevention programs to middle and high school students, teen parents, high-stress families with young children, and our peer professionals within Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.  Prevention education presenters are CARES Northwest’s medical and social work professionals.

Classes offered:

Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma:

Babies can be at risk for shaking when caregivers get frustrated with inconsolable crying.  This training describes normal infant crying patterns and factors that can make babies more vulnerable to shaking.  It also shows factors that contribute to adults’ likelihood of shaking babies.  Emphasized in this program are strategies for soothing babies, along with techniques for caregivers to cope effectively with crying.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths (SUIDS):

While SIDS and SUIDS are not caused by inflicted injury to infants, they are certainly risks for very young children.  Participants in this training will learn how to protect babies from SIDS and SUIDS, create safe sleep environments, and eliminate environmental conditions that put babies at risk.

Developmental Stages that Increase Risk for Abuse:

As children grow and experience different developmental phases, they may be at higher risk for abuse because parents and caregivers have unrealistic expectations and/or lack understanding of common behaviors and how to effectively cope with them (e.g. nighttime awakening, Period of PURPLE Crying, separation anxiety, exploratory behavior, negativism, poor appetite and toilet training).  This program teaches caregivers what to expect and how to respond to children as they grow and change.  A toddler only version of this training is also available.

Early Brain Development and Age-Appropriate Play:

Research shows that how parents and caregivers engage with babies significantly affects healthy brain development and attachment.  This program teaches the types of play that are crucial for healthy development from birth to 6 months and from 6 to 12 months.  Areas of development include social skills, language skills, fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Click here to view a recent study from Harvard University called “InBrief: The Science of Neglect”, explaining why  deprivation is so harmful in the earliest years of life and why early intervention will lead to better long-term outcomes in learning, health, and parenting of the next generation.

Teen Dating Violence:

While many teens are engaged in abusive relationships, they often don’t recognize it.  This program helps adolescents distinguish between of healthy and unhealthy relationships.  Teens learn about the prevalence and warning signs in abusive relationships and watch video examples of them.  Through interactive scenarios, teens identify power and control behaviors used by abusive partners.  The program emphasizes safety planning and how to get effective help when leaving abusers.

Effects of Domestic Violence on Children:

Across every developmental level (including before birth), children are vulnerable when exposed to violence in their homes.  Participants learn the characteristics and dynamics of intimate partner violence and various ways children can be hurt.  Factors that increase risk and protection of the children are discussed.  Participants learn about safety planning and how children heal when they are in a safe environment.

Drug and Alcohol Effects on Babies:

Even before birth, children are affected by substances in their environments.  Participants learn about effects of prescription and non-prescription drug use during fetal development, as well as during periods of infancy, young childhood and during school age.  The program discusses fetal alcohol effects as well as fetal alcohol syndrome.  What happens when children are exposed to tobacco smoke and/or particles in tobacco products is also explained.

Sexual Abuse Prevention for High School and Middle School Students:

This program helps adolescents understand the importance of physical, emotional and behavioral boundaries.  They also learn how offenders groom teens and adults and violate boundaries to get what they want.  Students learn how to recognize offender behaviors and how offenders choose their victims.  Through engaging activities, scenarios, videos, and class discussion, students discover how common sexual abuse is, how it affects people over their lifetime, and why it’s so important to tell if they or their friends are being abused.  At the end of this two-part presentation, students make buttons to raise awareness about sexual abuse prevention.

Sexual Abuse Prevention for Parents and Other Concerned Adults:

CARES Northwest offers more than one presentation for adult audiences about sexual abuse prevention. Currently, CARES Northwest is offering an evidence-informed child sexual abuse prevention entitled: “Standing Up 2 Sexual Abuse: Adults Together Protecting Children.” This presentation is available to any group of parents, concerned adults, or peer professionals in our community. “Standing Up 2 Sexual Abuse” is the core presentation. It teaches how to recognize and respond effectively to concerning behavior by adults and by youth in order to keep their children safe. This training helps adults develop skills for setting and enforcing safe boundaries for children, for talking to children about Family Rules, and for addressing concerns with other adults. CARES Northwest also offers a version of “Standing Up” geared to foster/adoptive parents and DHS caseworkers. It presents additional information about parenting children who have been sexually abused. The third component of the CARES Northwest adult sexual abuse prevention program is a presentation for Youth Service Organizations. Many handouts (e.g. warning signs and tip sheets) and other resources are provided.

group of toddlers2With an increase in sports, camps and other kids’ activities over the summer, it’s important to help your children identify inappropriate behaviors and/or signs of abuse. Click here for helpful tips and resources to keep your children safe and informed.

CARES Northwest also offers specialized sexual abuse presentations designed for mental health professionals, child protective service workers, and foster parents.  These presentations offer more information about the effects of sexual abuse, trauma, and responding to common (and difficult) questions from child, and teen victims.  CARES Northwest also offers a presentation for Youth Service Organizations.

To request more information or to schedule trainings, please contact Sally Blackwood, CARES Northwest’s Prevention Educator, at (503) 276-9026 or at