By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4) - According to a new survey commissioned by Research!America, a majority of Americans view child abuse and neglect as a serious public health problem. Now, two Coloradans have created a foundation to support research, training and prevention.
One of the founders is Dr. Richard Krugman, former Dean of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
The other is child and family therapist, Lori Poland. Nearly 35 years ago, the Coloradan was kidnapped, sexually abused and left to die in an abandoned outhouse. Poland has dedicated her adult life to helping others who have suffered trauma.
"I am working on my healing all day every day and I have forever," Poland told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
That started on Aug. 22, 1983. Poland was three years old. A man in a car kidnapped her from her front yard in Sheridan.
"The gentleman inside leaned over and asked if I liked candy. Like any sugar-loving 3-year-old, I said 'yes' and I eagerly got in the car and we were gone," Poland said.
Her parents made a plea through the media to get her abductor to bring her back. While the community rallied, Poland's kidnapper sexually abused her and left her to die in the pit of an abandoned outhouse in a remote area near Genesee.
Three days later, bird watchers heard her crying. She was reunited with her parents.
"People, first, are shocked that I'm not living on Colfax with needles hanging out of my arm," Poland said.
Then, people are surprised to learn she became a child and family therapist.
"I feel like I'm unique, and it's shaped me into being as good and kind of a human being as I possibly can," said the mother of three.
Now, Poland has teamed up with her former pediatrician, Krugman, to establish the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect (EndCAN).
"I knew I needed to do something to make a difference," Poland told a crowd at the kickoff of the foundation at the state capitol. She is now the Executive Director of EndCAN.
EndCAN will support research, training and prevention and work to change the conversation around child abuse and neglect.
"It's fixable when we can talk about it," said Poland.
The goal of EndCAN is to end child abuse and neglect in our lifetime. The founders hope to do so by changing the perception, making it a mental health and public health problem that can be treated.
To help fund EndCAN go to www.endcan.org.
for more features.