RANCHO MIRAGE — Decade after decade child abuse was an issue swept under the carpet. Egregious, unimaginable acts were carried on behind closed doors never to be discussed in broad daylight. Children were emotionally, sexually, verbally and physically abused and were expected to carry on as though nothing happened.

The abused child attempted to paint a smile on his face and hoped no one would discover his secret.

As reports of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church began to receive significant media and public attention, especially in the 1990s, the pendulum started to swing. Child abuse started to become part of a daily conversation. Victims had names and faces.

Abuse became a more palpable, though still difficult, topic to discuss.

As those discussions began to permeate society, it was readily apparent that child abuse was not contained to the Catholic Church.

In 2011, following a two-year grand jury investigation, Gerald Arthur Sandusky, a celebrated football coach at Pennsylvania State University, was arrested and charged with 52 counts of sexual abuse of young boys over a 15-year period from 1994 to 2009. Today, he is a convicted serial rapist and child molester.

Lawrence Gerard Nassar, once the celebrated USA Gymnastics national team doctor and an osteopathic physician at Michigan State University, is also now a convicted serial child molester.

Closer to home, convicted child molester John David Yoder is a convicted child molester. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his involvement in the case of a child porn ring that preyed upon Desert Hot Springs children.

Yoder was convicted of 10 felony crimes – including child molestation, human trafficking and criminal conspiracy – in February 2016.

And, of course, there is the most recent Riverside County case. It is the case of the 13 siblings who had allegedly been tied to their beds by their parents as punishment for misbehavior — first with ropes, then with chains and padlocks, officials said. They are known as the Turpin children, who range in age from 2 to 29. All but the youngest were fed very little food on a schedule, leaving them profoundly malnourished.

The stories assault the senses and suck the breath right out of you. Why is the prevalence of abuse so pronounced?

“I don’t think the incidents of abuse have increased dramatically,” John E. Thoresen, director and executive officer of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, told Uken Report.  “I think it’s always been there. The reporting of abuse may have increased, but I think the fact people are talking about it is much more prevalent than in years past.”

The sunlight cast on the horrific crimes of abuse is also shedding much-needed light on the long-term impact abuse has on children, Thoresen said.

John E. Thoresen

“There’s much more concern about the mental health in children that have been abused, or who have been a witness to violence,” Thoresen said. “There are studies now that their brains are affected. Without treatment and therapy, the abuse can cause huge issues later on. That’s becoming more apparent.”

The mental health of child abuse victims is just one more reason why the success of the Make March Matter fundraising campaign is critical.

The Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, founded by Frank and Barbara Sinatra in 1986 and located on the Eisenhower Health campus, is one of two children’s facilities that are the focal point of the campaign.

For the second consecutive year, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) has partnered with the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center (BSCC) in conjunction with CHLA’s campaign. The goal is to raise at least $250,000 during the month of March in the Coachella Valley to support services for children and families at the two facilities.

“Our relationship with Children’s Hospital is one that is important to this organization for a number of reasons,” Thoresen said. “As we can raise more money with Make March Matters, we can involve Dr. Karen Imagawa and her work in a much more holistic fashion, not just reviewing forensic medical exams, but developing programs for these children that focus on nutrition and other health related matters.”

It’s all about helping the children that pass daily through the doors of the Center, Thoresen said.

“The impact on the brain of these children is substantial and it’s being documented that without a more holistic approach in dealing with the trauma, problems are going to arise,” Thoresen said.  “Our involvement with Children’s Hospital is beyond just the forensic medical exam. It’s having procedures and processes in place so we can help the child and the family in an overall program. Dr. Imagawa is stretched as thin as possible right now, but to get her additional resources to do some of these things is why this whole program is important.”

During February, 166 separate clients passed through the Center, generating 600 appointments. Since it was founded in 1986, 23,000 abused children have passed through the Center’s doors.

If you would like to contribute, the best way to do that by clicking HERE to find out which businesses are supporting the campaign. Then go out and support those businesses.  You can also make a donation directly on the web site and 100 percent of those funds go directly CHLA/BSCC.