Maui News

229 Child Victims on Maui: Hoʻoikaika Partnership Works to Reduce Child Abuse

April 10, 2015, 3:43 PM HST
* Updated April 10, 4:14 PM
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By Maui Now Staff

This month the Hoʻoikaika Partnership on Maui is working to raise awareness about child abuse prevention in observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Month of the Young Child.

In 2012, 229 Maui County children were confirmed as victims of child abuse or neglect out of the 556 children reported to child welfare services, according to information detailed by the organization and included in a statistical report prepared by the state Department of Human Services Management.

The state data reportedly indicates that these 229 children represent 17% of the confirmed cases in Hawaiʻi.

“One of the most effective ways to prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring is to ensure all parents have the knowledge, skills, resources, and social support they need to provide safe, stable, nurturing environments for their children,” said Paul Tonnessen, director of the Friends of the Maui Children’s Justice Center in a press release statement.  The nonprofit group is among those in Maui County that provide assistance to abused and neglected children.


Jeny Bissell, a registered public health nurse with the State of Hawai‘i Department of Health also commented saying, “When parents and communities possess five protective factors, the risk for neglect and abuse diminishes and optimal outcomes for children, youth, and families are promoted.” The five protective factors include: (1) knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development; (2) parental resilience; (3) social connections; (4) concrete supports for parents; and (5) social and emotional competence in children.


In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Nicole Hokoana, Director of the Maui Sexual Assault Center said, “without appropriate interventions, being a victim of one type of violence, such as child abuse, increases a person’s risk of being a victim of other types of violence, such as sexual assault. Maui County provides a great example of organizations strengthening the entire community because they work together to raise awareness about and prevent all types of violence.”

The Hoʻoikaika Partnership is a coalition of over 40 organizations and individuals working to prevent child abuse and neglect in Maui County.

The work of the Partnership is guided by the Core Partners: Edeluisa Baguio-Larena, Executive Director, Maui Family Support Services; Jeny Bissell, Family Health Services Division Supervisor, Maui District Health Office; Nicole Hokoana, Director, Child & Family Service Maui County Programs; Tina Kiyabu-Crowell, Quality Assurance Specialist, Maui Family Guidance Center; Karen Worthington, Children’s Policy Attorney, Karen Worthington Consulting.


Earlier this month, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa issued a proclamation in observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Additional events in observance of the Month of the Young Child include the following:

  • Saturday, April 11, 10:30 a.m.: Concert by Uncle Wayne and the Howling Dog Band at Makawao Public Library
  • Saturday, April 11, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Valley Isle Keiki Fest at UHMC
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