Few criminal acts ignite judgment and ire against the perpetrator—and compassion for the victim—quite as intensely as child abuse.
The stories we see on the news of prolonged, undetected harm and neglect haunt our hearts. We wonder what we can we do to help. What can we do to strengthen families and protect the most vulnerable souls in our community?
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Get to know this month’s RichmondMom with a Mission, Executive Director of Greater RichmondSCAN [Stop Child Abuse Now], Jeanine Harper.
Jeanine, how would you describe what it is you do with RichmondSCAN?
I work closely with staff, volunteers, donors and community partners to protect children and strengthen families. It is my responsibility to help bring people to our mission, so that they can be a part of the safety net for the children and families in our community. I also focus on the details that keep an organization running, so we can be most effective in our work.
What was the catalyst that made you decide YOU personally needed to take action?
I don’t think there was a single cause, but more a sense from a very young age that I wanted to do something to help make the world easier for people who struggled—also a strong belief in the strength of people to cope and withstand very tough circumstances.
Please tell us a bit about how you got started…
I got started as a little girl who devoured books about people who faced hard things and showed courage and grace. I went to the VCU School of Social Work where I learned what I needed to know to do this work. I have always been open to learning and continue to from the people I work with and many others who make our work possible.
What is/are the goals of the organizations with whom you work?
The goals are to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect. This translates into helping the adults in children’s lives get the support and education they need and also helping children find ways to cope and grow. In addition, we work to create policy changes at the system level through education and advocacy.
What do you feel has been accomplished so far?
I think a real awareness that children are hurt in our community—and that we can do something about it to make it different. I hope also that we have increased understanding that most parents who hurt their children don’t want to hurt them, and they themselves have often been the victims of abuse. I think we have also created hope that something can be done to change the way our community responds to this issue, because we know so much about what works and what strengthens families.
What makes you proudest personally about your affiliation with Greater RichmondSCAN?
SO many things. The kindness, generosity and toughness of the folks who are engaged with our mission is amazing. They are so talented and give so much to make our mission real and powerful.
What’s next on-deck?
We are always looking down the road to what else we can do to enhance or expand what we are doing to respond to the needs and also to help others do the same. We are working hard to expand our community’s understanding of protective factors in families and communities and also what it means to be a trauma-informed community.
How can others get involved?
Easily. We welcome and need so much help. The best thing is to visit our website at grscan.com and contact us to join our efforts. We can’t do it alone.
How does your family feel about what you are doing?
My daughter said she really likes that I am doing it because it’s good for the community and it brings people together to help children. It “helps other families have the bond that she has with her mommy.” My husband said he’s very moved by all I’ve has done, and how I’ve kept at it for so many years. My son is proud and really supportive in whatever way he can be. They all have pitched in in many ways to make it possible for me to do this work and also be a part of such a loving family.
Jeanine, we thank you so much for your commitment to Richmond’s families and children…and for being a RichmondMom with a mission!