South Bend presents ‘Life of Abandoned Child’ Event

Teachers, coaches, counselors and parents met up today to learn how to help children who feel abandoned and unwanted in our community. 

The YMCA in South Bend hosted an event with the Indiana Youth Institute, Early Childhood Alliance and the St. Joseph County Health Department called, “Life of an Abandoned Child.”  

These types of events are called Youth Worker Cafes and at this one, a Chicago native came to speak to a group in Michiana about his story of abuse and neglect.

To help stop the cycle all you have to do is listen.

Calvin Swan is a Chicago native.

“They’re looking for attention. They turn to the street because they are given the love,” said Swan.

He grew up in foster homes feeling neglected all his childhood. Swan now works with kids who are dealing with similar situations.

There are a lot of kids that I work with that are looking for love and want to change,” said Swan.

Christine Pochert, the Director of Social Work Services for the South Bend Community Schools says their main goal is to educate individuals on how to help these children.

Listen to students, love those students and give them the opportunity to talk about things,” said Pochert.

Pochert says South Bend schools are becoming more well-rounded in dealing with these delicate situations by offering resources to both teachers and students.

Jeff Burnett, a South Bend psychologist, says these problems start with the child’s first relationship.

Children who have betrayal or abandonment in their first relationship with their parents learn instead of trust and care mistrust and security and the anger starts as fear,” said Burnett.

Swan says that can lead to major issues.

“Clearly they’re going to keep all the anger in and it’s going to turn into violence,” said Swan.

Abuse and neglect are risk factors for delinquent behavior, drug use and they then end up at the JJC,” said Burnett.

These cafés come around 3-4 times every year and they target individuals who work with children on a daily basis. Pochert explained there are 320 mentors in South Bend, but 48 children are still waiting for volunteers. 2 of them are girls and 46 are boys.

Interested in becoming a mentor? Click here

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