VB Gives Back

#VBGIVESBACK: Kimberly Guilfoyle

September 1, 2017

We are honored to support The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children as part of our ongoing #VBGIVESBACK program and will be donating $10 of every VeronicaBeard.com order in September to the cause.
From her work as a prosecutor in California to her coverage of child protection issues as a journalist, Kimberly Guilfoyle has been fighting for children’s rights for years. As a member of the Children’s Council at The New York Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty  to Children, an organization dedicated to responding to the needs of abused and neglected children, Kimberly is working to raise awareness on how to protect children from child abuse. We are honored to highlight the work she is doing within this incredible organization.

How did you become involved with The NYSPCC?

I have always been passionate about helping women and children. While I served as a prosecutor for both the Los Angeles and San Francisco District Attorney's Offices, as well as during my tenure as First Lady of San Francisco, I regularly advocated and fought for children’s rights. When I transitioned to work as a journalist and legal analyst, I continued to bring focus to issues of child protection. My coverage of the Penn State sexual abuse story caught the attention of The NYSPCC, and they generously presented me with the Strength of our Society Award at their gala in 2012. Because The NYSPCC was the world’s first child protective agency, I couldn’t have been more honored.

Since then, I continued to work with The NYSPCC as a member of their Children’s Council. I regularly host their fundraising events and promote the important work they do on my show. As a Co-Host of “The Five,” I have the ability to raise national awareness about child abuse. It’s my pleasure and responsibility to shine a spotlight on this important issue and support the work of The NYSPCC.

What is the history of The NYSPCC?

In 1874, a woman named Etta Wheeler discovered that nine-year-old Mary Ellen was being severely abused by her adoptive mother in their New York City tenement. At the time, there were no laws to protect children from abuse, but there were laws to protect animals. Determined to save Mary Ellen, Mrs. Wheeler sought help from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). With help from the ASPCA’s lawyers, Mary Ellen was placed in a loving home and grew to live a normal, happy life. She married, raised a family of her own, and lived to the age of 92.

One of the ASPCA’s lawyers was Elbridge T. Gerry. He founded The NYSPCC, as the world’s first child protection agency in 1875 and helped to create the earliest legislation to protect children from abuse. This legacy has left an indelible mark on the history and progress of child protection in the United States, and The NYSPCC has continued to build upon it ever since.
Artwork from a child at The NYSPCC.

What are the main goals of the organization?

The NYSPCC’s mission is to respond to the complex needs of abused and neglected children and those involved in their care, by providing best practice counseling, legal, and educational services. They carry out this mission by offering services that prevent child maltreatment and help children who have been affected by abuse, neglect, and family violence, to heal. In 2016, The NYSPCC provided an array of education, therapeutic, and intervention services for over 10,000 children, parents, caregivers, and professionals.

Why is it important that children who are victims of abuse receive proper therapy?

Child abuse and neglect put children at risk of developing emotional and mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, anger, aggression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as addictive and self-injurious behaviors. For those children who also live in poverty and the foster care system, symptoms often go untreated because their families cannot access the therapeutic services they need to recover. When unaddressed, trauma symptoms can affect children’s emotional, social, academic and even physical development, which can persist into adulthood. This is why The NYSPCC established their Trauma Recovery Program, which delivers therapeutic services, free of charge, to help children recover from abuse. Led by licensed clinicians, who are specially trained in treating children exposed to severe and chronic trauma, The NYSPCC’s Trauma Recovery Program provides a combination of one-on-one, family and collateral therapy sessions in a nurturing, therapeutic environment.

What programs are available for parents through The NYSPCC?

The NYSPCC offers services for parents through its Therapeutic Supervised Visitation Program, which serves children and parents from high-conflict families when it is determined that one or both parents put their children’s safety at risk. Sessions are held in playrooms, where parents are encouraged to talk and play with their children in order to maintain and strengthen their relationships. The NYSPCC clinicians coach parents before and after each visit to encourage positive parenting and help parents realize their strengths in caring for their children. Our clinicians discuss children’s developmental needs, prepare parents for children’s reactions, and help parents cope with feelings of sadness and frustration so they can give their children their full attention. Parents in the program also participate in a 12-week Parenting Skills Education workshop, which covers topics like childhood development and communication skills. In these ways, The NYSPCC promotes positive parenting skills that support the healthy emotional and social development of children.

How has The NYSPCC had a national and international impact?

With 142 years of experience, The NYSPCC has set the standards for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. They have a great deal of knowledge to share and regularly help other non-profits to replicate their best practices and program models to improve the child welfare field. The NYSPCC’s Training Institute regularly educates child welfare professionals, teachers, community organizations and parent groups on a wide range of topics, including child abuse prevention, identifying and reporting child abuse, and managing secondary traumatic stress.

One of The NYSPCC’s most exciting projects involves sharing the program model for their child sexual abuse prevention program, Safe Touches. Last year, The NYSPCC started working with Athens-based ELIZA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to adapt Safe Touches for schools in the country of Greece, where 1 in 5 children are victims of sexual abuse. The NYSPCC was also asked by Penn State to help them develop a school-based initiative that will bring Safe Touches workshops to children throughout Pennsylvania. By collaborating with ELIZA and Penn State, The NYSPCC is ensuring that more children are protected from sexual abuse.

How does The NYSPCC work within the legal system?

The NYSPCC’s earliest efforts involved the investigation, removal and sheltering of abused children. As government agencies took over this responsibility, the organization evolved and developed programs that focus on prevention and treatment. However, The NYSPCC remains at the forefront of advocacy efforts for laws and policies to protect children. The NYSPCC works to educate local and state lawmakers and supports legislation that will improve the lives of children and create a safer environment. The NYSPCC’s 2016 advocacy work focused on amending the New York State Education Law to require private schools to report to law enforcement any instances of suspected child abuse of students by school employees. Current law only requires this of public schools. With the contributions of The NYSPCC, The New York State Education Committee passed the bill in June 2017.

What are some ways through which you support The NYSPCC's mission?

The NYSPCC holds several fundraising events during the year, including a Family Benefit, a Spring Luncheon and a Food and Wine gala. I regularly support, promote and attend these events, because they are an important venue for rallying people around the issue of child abuse. In 2016, I was honored to host the Food and Wine Gala, which raised funds for The NYSPCC’s Trauma Recovery and Safe Touches programs.

I also take every chance I can get to talk about The NYSPCC on my show. I want people to understand that child abuse is a national epidemic. The NYSPCC conducts rigorous prevention so that epidemic numbers decline, but it is everyone’s responsibility to keep children safe. Because The NYSPCC has been dedicated to this noble effort for over 140 years, they are the perfect charity for people who want to become more involved in protecting children.

How have you seen the work of The NYSPCC change lives?

I see it in their numbers—The NYSPCC has served and protected more than two million children since 1875, including more than 10,000 children, parents, caregivers and child welfare professionals last year alone. I see it in their outcomes—95% of the children who participate in their Trauma Recovery Program show improvement in their symptoms, and 95% of the parents who participate in their Therapeutic Supervised Visitation Program improve their knowledge and understanding of parenting skills. Most importantly, I see it in the smiles of the strong, resilient children who walk through their doors every day. These kids are healing and thriving, thanks to The NYSPCC.


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