Friday, February 24, 2012

Isis Interview with MCC: Each Child Should Be Cherished

Written on February 17, 2012 by Isis Staff in In The News


Isis Parenting is proud to support Massachusetts Citizens for Children and their commitment to keeping children safe from abuse and neglect. We decided to interview the folks at MCC so they could describe their history, current initiatives and their unique logo, designed by artist Corita Kent.

The "Cherish Mug" is adorned with the MCC logo and available for purchase at Isis Parenting and on the MCC website.

Tell us a little bit about MCC and your mission.
Massachusetts Citizens for Children was founded in 1959 by Martha May Eliot, M.D., a Harvard educated pediatrician who went on to head the U.S. Children’s Bureau and UNICEF. Her idea, which was supported by then Governor Foster Furcolo, was to establish a permanent and independent organization of concerned citizens who would work to improve the lives of the state’s most vulnerable children. Our mission is grounded in the belief that all children have basic rights, including the right to be safe from abuse, neglect, and violence; to be economically secure; to receive quality medical and preventive care; to learn in quality educational settings; and to live in caring families and healthy communities. Unfortunately, the realities of some children in our state do not reflect this ideal. Our work throughout our 52-year history has been to ensure that all children are safe, healthy, and are given an optimal environment in which to grow, learn and be happy.

Who was Corita Kent and what was her relationship with Massachusetts Citizens for Children?
Corita Kent, also known as Sister Mary Corita, gained international fame for her vibrant serigraphs which became a hallmark of the anti-war movements in the 1960s and 70s and were popular until her death in Boston in 1986. Corita was well known for her rainbow swash painted in 1971 on one of the gas tanks near the Southeast Expressway in Dorchester. Her 1985 United States Postage stamp “Love” sold in the hundreds of millions. Corita’s art reflected her spirituality, her commitment to social justice, her hope for peace, and her delight in the world all around us.
In the mid-80’s Corita became acquainted with MCC’s work and created an exclusive serigraph to commemorate the organization’s 25th Anniversary. The phrase she believed captured the essence of our mission and work was: “It’s only fair that each child be cherished.” She encouraged us to use the saying as our official logo and determined that it should be in bright, bold red. And so, our logo simply, colorfully and brilliantly expresses our mission and hopes for children.

How do you see Corita’s words applying to what your organization is doing today?
A key part of our history has been to keep children safe from abuse and violence. We are also committed to the right of each child to live in caring families and healthy communities. These two ideas are complimentary; there are abusive behaviors that we can prevent – and we are working to do so – but beyond that, we need to be engaged in creating the home, community, world that we want. So, if we only focus on the things we should NOT be doing we’re missing half the message – what are the things we SHOULD be doing? The ansEwer is that we should be cherishing our children.
The saying “It’s only fair that each child be cherished” is a quiet message but it is a critical one. Oftentimes people, when confronting a serious and widespread problem, such as child sexual abuse, become paralyzed with inaction. Faced with sad facts and statistics it is so easy to get stuck in a “Well what’s the point?” loop. We don’t want people to feel powerless to create change. Shifting perspectives can have a huge impact. For example, instead of focusing our messages exclusively on “Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome / Abusive Head Trauma,” we educate parents on how to care for their babies when they are fussy and crying and how to take care of themselves, too, when infant caring becomes stressful. Instead of limiting the message to “Stop Child Sexual Abuse,” we educate parents, youth, professionals and communities about how to create safe environments. In both cases, the effect of using complementary messages is that people gain the motivation to participate in actions that will actually reduce the numbers of abused children.

What are some of your major initiatives this year?
We will soon be launching a major public campaign to reduce infant deaths and injuries from shaking. It will target young men between 18 and 25 years of age – the group most overrepresented in cases of shaken babies. The Enough Abuse Campaign on child sexual abuse prevention which we lead will be expanded to new communities and areas of the state and we will be providing consultation support to youth-serving organizations who are seeking to strengthen their ability to protect children from sexual abuse in those setting.
We will be promoting our “Pinwheels for Prevention” Campaign in April and in the fall are planning a “Cherish Our Children” Stroll, for which we will again be partnering with Isis Parenting. Other events you can find by following us on Facebook and on our websites:www.masskids.org and www.enoughabuse.org!

The Cherish Mugs are adorable and we’re getting a wonderful response to them in our stores. They make a great gift! How will the proceeds from the mug be used?
Proceeds from the sale of the mugs will go directly to support our programs on Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma Prevention and Child Sexual Abuse Prevention. We are a serious “no frills” organization so a very high percentage of funds raised supports our direct programs.

How do you think the missions of MCC and Isis are intertwined?
MCC and Isis Parenting have a shared vision in that both organizations believe in the power of education and the value of strong community. Moreover, Isis wants to empower parents to be the best they can be and they are committed to supporting parents to make parenting easier, less stressful and more joyful. Massachusetts Citizens for Children is committed to giving every child a fair chance at a healthy, safe and happy childhood. One of the best ways to achieve that goal is for each of us to love, cherish, and protect our own children, then the children in our community, then across Massachusetts and beyond – until all children are safe from abuse and violence and all children are able to live in a caring family and healthy community.