Child Abuse Prevention Program (CAPP)

Since its inception in 1986, the Child Abuse Prevention Program (CAPP) has been at the forefront of giving children the tools they need to prevent and report child abuse. CAPP believes that every child should receive their basic right to safety so that they can have the opportunity to grow and thrive.

With their award-winning Child Safety Workshop, CAPP has found an effective and engaging way of teaching children the skills they need to recognize and resist abuse. Using life-sized puppets to provide school children with safety information, the workshops have reached nearly half a million children to date.

Not too long after Hedge Funds Care/Help For Children, got off the ground, I became aware of an organization that was sending puppeteers into elementary schools, to do shows for third grade assembly. The puppets would describe abusive situations they had been in, and what they’d gone through in order to stop the abuse and make their lives better. It was called CAPP, The Child Abuse Prevention Program. I had to find out more..

Shortly thereafter I met Marion White, who had conceived of and started the program. She had also written the scripts, designed the puppets, hired and trained the puppeteers, and built a donor base to develop the funding, to keep it alive and saving many children from the trauma of abuse. I’m happy to say the HFC has been part of that donor base for many of the years since, and glad that CAPP is now safely ensconced within one of New York’s oldest charities, The New York Foundling and the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection. It didn’t take long after meeting her to arrange attending one of these assembly puppet shows at a public elementary school in Queens. I made it there and into the gym, just in time for the third graders to begin filing in to take seats in neat rows on the floor, in front of the two tables that were set-up for the puppeteers. I stood off to the side to watch,
and it was a good thing i did.

As the performance unfolded, I could not control the tears from pouring down my cheeks. It began with one boy puppet telling another how glad he was that he’d finally gone to the
Principal of his school to ask for help, because of the beatings he was getting from his mother when she’d had too much to drink. He said the therapy he and his Mom were
in together had really helped, and that Mom had stopped drinking.

His friend expressed dismay at how he never had any idea of what was happening, because both mother and son had put on such a good act to hide it. He patted his friend on
the shoulder and said he’d done the right thing.  Then girl puppet Suzie came out and asked the boys if she could speak with them.

“Sure Suzie,” both responded. “What do you want to talk about?”

“Well”, she  said hesitantly, “My Mom’s boyfriend has been…doing things to me and I don’t know what to do!”  And, Suzie’s arm covered her eyes and she began to sob.

“I’m scared’” she said.

Both boys jumped to action, one on each side of Suzie, with a hand on her shoulder.

“Kids,” they both shouted out to the anxious students watching, “ What should Suzie do? Tell her what she should do!”

And the kids, virtually in unison, some staying seated, others jumping to their feet all called out to Suzie…

“Suzie! Go to see the Principal! Tell the Principal! The Principal will help you!

I have to laugh at myself at the memory of it. I was a complete mess, standing there trying to be a casual and nonchalant visitor there to watch the assembly,
with my soaked handkerchief out and wiping up my tears.

Then the really dramatic part happened. The puppets told the kids that they’d been really good, and it was time for them to go back to their classroom. But then they said,

“If you have any questions you’d like to ask us, like Suzie did, about anyone you know, you should just stay seated quietly until the others leave…and we’ll talk.

Four kids remained seated on the floor….

Warm Wishes,