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James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America



James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America

 James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America was interviewed by The Daily Collegian and  StateCollege.com  during his appearance at Penn State University this week. We have pasted an excerpt below.

"If we want to prevent abuse and neglect we ought to be talking about how we ensure on an equal basis the happy and healthy development of every child," says Hmurovich. "People want to help, but they don't think they know what to do to help, so that's an awareness issue."

James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America was interviewed by Statecollege.com 

Expert: Shift in Culture Needed to Prevent Child Abuse

by Jennifer Miller on April 23, 2014 6:00 AM

Everyone from citizens to politicians, need to be part of a shift in culture in order to prevent child abuse in America, according to a well-known expert.

James Hmurovich is CEO and president of Prevent Child Abuse America. He'll be addressing the issue of child abuse during an appearance at Penn State later today.

"The public understands it's an issue, but we haven't been successful as a country to engage people and to stop abuse," he says.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Penn State will be hosting an awareness and prevention event at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the HUB Auditorium. Hmurovich will speak during the event which is sponsored by the University Park Undergraduate Association and Penn State's Network on Child Protection and Well-Being.

"Our definition of prevention means that the abuse or neglect never occurs," Hmurovich says. "We know how to do it, we're just not doing it."

Specifically, while the federal government has many programs in place to prevent child abuse, the structure is not connected, Hmurovich says. Additionally, he says those in charge of each separate initiative likely has its own definition for child abuse prevention.

The solution, he says, is to "connect the dots" by creating an integrated, comprehensive strategy for children as well as draft a national definition of prevention. To get there, elected officials need to draft a framework of policies and citizens need to support it, he says.

"If we want to prevent abuse and neglect we ought to be talking about how we ensure on an equal basis the happy and healthy development of every child," says Hmurovich. "People want to help, but they don't think they know what to do to help, so that's an awareness issue."

The responsibility also rests on corporations, Hmurovich says, by recognizing that employees' time with their family can be more important than the bottom line.

"We need corporate leaders to say families are important and our employees have families and they have the right to have time with their families ... maybe we've got to change the way we do business," he says.

Prevention can also occur at a more local level – for example if an adult is shopping at the mall and witnesses a parent aggressively dragging their child, Hmurovich says the adult should consider speaking up in a non-confrontational way.

"Say something that makes them smile, but lets them know they're being watched," he says.

In regards to the Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach who is now a convicted pedophile, Hmurovich says if something positive did come out of the abuse that received international attention it is that more people are talking about child sexual abuse than ever before.

When it comes to whether Penn State administrators, other employees, players, family members etc., did enough to stop the abuse by Sandusky, Hmurovich says that is less of a legal question and more of a moral question.

"We all have a responsibility that if you see something, say something," he says. "We have an obligation to report it and do something about it. ... I think the lesson that this circumstance taught us is we all have that responsibility.

"It's all in the best interest of the child. ... It can't be about money or the law ... to me the issue is, was everything done in the best of the child?"

 

James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America was interviewed by The Daily Collegian

 

Prevent Child Abuse America CEO James Hmurovich says preventing child abuse a group effort

Posted: Wedneday, April 23, 2014 12:00 am

By Erin McCarthy | Collegian Staff Writer

A pinwheel represents the happy-go-lucky spirit that every child should have, Prevent Child Abuse America President and CEO James Hmurovich said.

Sitting across a pristine, white-cloth-covered table in a quiet dining room at The Nittany Lion Inn , a jovial Hmurovich lit up as he described the positive associations children have told him they associate with a pinwheel, the feeling’s symbol for abuse prevention.

Unfortunately, not every childhood is so carefree.

Hmurovich witnesses this sad reality every day as he works to increase public awareness of child abuse with initiatives and events, such as tonight’s talk and community discussion at the HUB Auditorium in the HUB-Robeson Center.

Hmurovich will be the keynote speaker of the event entitled "Making a Difference, Every Day: Preventing Child Abuse Begins with You,” which begins at 7:30 p.m. The talk is free of charge and open to the public.

It will be followed by a panel discussion featuring five student, community and university leaders.

This panel is purposefully diverse, said Jonathan F. McVerry, Communications Manager for The Network on Child Protection and Well-Being.

Students have been instrumental in the planning of this event, Margaret Gray, director of policy and administration for the network said.

The talk is sponsored by student organizations, including the University Park Undergraduate Association, and local service organizations, such as One Heart, as well as the Network on Child Protection and Well-Being,

“One Heart has contributed in spreading the word out to other organizations, representing the student body perspective, and providing volunteers to help set up the event,” president of the student group against child sexual abuse and a member of tonight’s panel Cristina Fernandez said via email.

Gray, McVerry and Hmurovich all emphasized the importance of universal engagement and awareness in preventing child maltreatment.

“It’s a community problem, not a government issue in itself,” Hmurovich said.

However, awareness alone is not enough. Getting people to act serves as another critical component of Hmurovich’s work.

He admitted it’s often difficult to educate young children about such a heavy issue; however, children are much more aware of abuse and neglect than he was as a child, Hmurovich said.

He said he tries to take a positive approach by highlighting the importance of simple acts.

He advises people to be kind and take time to see when someone is in distress.

An action as small as offering a word of empathy to a distressed parent can break a moment of potential abuse, Hmurovich said.

He said about 78 percent of child maltreatment in the U.S. is attributed to neglect, which has been linked to poverty.

Child sexual abuse is one component of the remaining 22 percent, he said.

While “stranger danger” is stressed by parents, most of the time a sexually-abused child knows the abuser, Hmurovich said.

Effective policies, such as criminal background checks and limitations on one-to-one time with children and adult supervisors, are already in place around the country and at Penn State. But Hmurovich said parents have a responsibility to prepare children for potentially abusive encounters.

In recent years, child abuse has seemed to make news again and again. The issue hit close to home in 2011 when the child sex abuse case involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky made national headlines.

Hmurovich said the increased media attention highlights a greater awareness in talking about child abuse, which is a positive development for America as a whole.

With April being national child abuse prevention month, Gray said Hmurovich will be able to provide the university with an outside perspective on the importance of a communal effort in this continued fight to ensure every child has the opportunity to be healthy and happy.

“Awareness without action is an opportunity that’s lost,” Hmurovich said.

Erin McCarthy can be reached at ekm5162@psu.edu or (816)865-1828. Follow her on Twitter at @ErinMcPSU.