WICHITA – Wesley Children’s Hospital, the region’s first and only dedicated hospital built exclusively for children, along with multiple community partners kicked off the region’s first-ever No Hit Zone program today, where education and training is provided on how to create safe, nurturing relationships and environments across the lifespan.
Originally created in 2005 by Dr. Lolita McDavid, a pediatrician at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, and implemented nationally, the No Hit Zone concept is simple: It is an environment in which no adult shall hit another adult, no adult shall hit a child, no child shall hit an adult and no child shall hit another child.
“Our primary goal is to keep children healthy and safe,” said Bill Voloch, Wesley Healthcare president and CEO. “This program helps us create positive environments to do that with education and supportive intervention.”
Initially, professionals and staff are trained. After discussing research about the ineffectiveness of spanking and the associated increased risk for child abuse, they learn intervention skills and practice a variety of case scenarios. This training focuses on de-escalating situations before anyone is hit. Staff develop skills to distract children or offer assistance when stress levels are high and someone is about to “lose it.” The goal is to model behaviors that parents and caregivers can use in similar situations before they feel pushed to use personal violence.
Secondly, No Hit Zone posters, pamphlets and education materials are placed in offices, waiting rooms and public gathering areas. These include information about positive parenting techniques, links to local and national resources and the No Hit Zone policy.
Lastly, facilities promote safe places by placing distractions and child-friendly activities in the physical environment to help prevent the normal misbehavior children exhibit when they are bored, tired, scared or hungry. Agency members learn to model positive options for frustrated parents, for example, “Let’s read or play a game together.”
“It makes people uncomfortable when they see a parent being aggressive in public with a child,” said Diana Schunn, Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County executive director. “We find ourselves hoping the situation will diffuse itself or that others will intervene, but that is often not the case. With this program, we now have an effective approach to handle or prevent these types of situations.”
No Hit Zone community partners include the KU School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Pediatrics, the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County, Wichita State University and Wichita Public Schools, along with the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s office. Learn more about becoming a No Hit Zone by visiting www.wesleynohitzone.org.