Over the past 50 years, the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect has changed the culture of children’s rights worldwide. Established in 1972, the Kempe Center became the first of its kind, providing research, training, education and innovative program development for all forms of child abuse, neglect and trauma.
German-born C. Henry Kempe, MD, fled to the United States during the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1930s. In his new home, he learned to speak English and excelled in school. He eventually earned a medical degree and became the youngest chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. As a young physician, Kempe was the first in the American medical community to identify and acknowledge child abuse.
‘My father was working like a steam engine – pushing all the time and
let no obstacle stand in his way.’ – Allison Kempe, MD
Kempe co-founded the center with his wife Ruth Kempe, originally known as the National Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. In 1962, he and his colleagues, including former CU medical pioneers Brandt F. Steel, MD, and Henry Silver, MD, published the article “The Battered Children Syndrome,” a groundbreaking study that shed light on a societal scourge already long lingered. in the shadows.
‘Driven in his desire to help children’
Thanks to Kempe’s efforts, child abuse reporting laws now exist in all 50 US states. Kempe’s work led to the passage of the Colorado Act of 1972 requiring legal advice for the child in all cases of suspected abuse. In 1976, the Kempe Foundation was established to lead fundraising, awareness and advocacy for children.
C. Henry Kempe, MD
“My dad was working like a steam engine — pushing through all the time and letting no obstacle get in his way,” says Allison Kempe, MD, MPH/MSPH, professor of pediatrics at the CU School of Medicine and director of Adult & Child Center for Outcomes Research & Delivery Science (ACCORDS).
“He achieved so much more than most people in a day and was extremely driven in his desire to help children,” added Allison Kempe, one of five daughters. “I was lucky enough to see him in both a professional realm where he was awesome and in a personal realm where he was loving and gentle.”
Now at the CU School of Medicine, the Kempe Center’s mission remains unchanged: to help children heal, grow and learn, and support their families, while offering hope for a better future.
‘They are all our children’
“The Kempe Center has helped change the culture of children’s rights in our country and worldwide,” said Annie Kempe, another of Kempe’s daughters, a retired occupational therapist in Santa Barbara, California. The center inspired widespread recognition that children have basic rights to safety, health and safety as well as education, nutrition and medical care, she said.
Her father felt a personal responsibility to all children and encouraged all citizens to share in that responsibility, said Annie Kempe, who has written a book on her father’s legacy. “He’d say, ‘They’re all our kids.'”
Today, the Kempe Center provides an opportunity for CU Anschutz students to conduct research and gain the skills needed to diagnose, treat, and prevent child abuse and neglect. Programs include the Child Protection Team and The CARE Network (Kempe serves as the information center that provides training and mentoring), a group of physicians, physicians, psychologists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses and licensed behavioral therapists who provide support and care to children who suspected of being the victim of abuse or neglect.
Laura Schwab Reese receives
50th anniversary Kempe Lecture Award
In mid-June, Laura Schwab Reese, PhD, Berger Postdoctoral Fellow of the Kempe Center from 2015 to 2017, was honored with the 50th Anniversary Kempe Lecture Award for her achievements on behalf of the center.
At a ceremony in Tallinn, Estonia, she received the award from the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect (ISPCAN), which has been creating and disseminating knowledge about child abuse around the world for 45 years. ISPCAN and The Kempe Center at the University of Colorado School of Medicine share C. Henry Kempe’s vision to create a global community to help prevent harm to children.
Richard Krugman, MD, a distinguished professor in the CU Department of Pediatrics and former dean of the CU School of Medicine, said he wants his former mentor to be remembered as a pioneer who created a multidisciplinary approach to the recognition, treatment, and prevention of child abuse and neglect by the center.
“The Kempe Center tested programs and exported them when they worked and reported on them when they didn’t so that others wouldn’t have to repeat the failure,” said Krugman, a former director of the center.
‘The future of our children and the future of the world are one’
The center’s leadership in advocacy, research, education and clinical work drives innovative strategies that transform the field and empower families and communities and the systems that serve them, said Annie Kempe.
“Among professionals working in the field of child abuse and neglect, the Kempe Center has long been regarded as a touchstone and resource for teaching, education, idea sharing, cultural awareness and awards, magazine publishing, and global gatherings and gatherings,” she said. .
“In our society, the Kempe Center reminds us of our responsibility to protect the vulnerable — our children — as well as their needs and rights here in Colorado and everywhere,” she said. After 50 years, the vision of the center remains in line with the overarching passion of C. Henry Kempe: “The future of our children and the future of the world are one.”
Guest Contributor: Lasy Phanthalangsy-Johnson is communications and marketing coordinator at the Kempe Center.