National Symposium on Child Abuse: New Research, More Teamwork
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Professionals in child abuse investigation and treatment are meeting this week in Huntsville, Alabama, including some from Arkansas. At the National Symposium on Child Abuse, they'll get the latest research on such topics as trauma-focused therapy, sex trafficking and online exploitation.
Many youngsters in abusive situations are now seen at Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs), where they are interviewed by specially-trained investigators and receive medical treatment and counseling.
Chris Newlin, executive director of the National Children's Advocacy Center, explains it is less stressful for kids and families to receive these services in a single place.
"Child abuse, especially child sexual abuse, is not just a criminal justice issue, not just a Child Protective Services issue," said Newlin. "It's that, plus a mental health issue, a medical issue, and only by having these professionals work together, we'd be able to be effective in our response."
Newlin notes that they're seeing a troubling trend: an increase in child neglect across the country.
About a dozen CACs in Arkansas coordinated almost 3900 cases last year, most of them involving sexual abuse.
There are 850 CACs nationwide. They also provide child-abuse-prevention training to more than a half-million people a year. According to Newlin, the child-friendly setting and team strategy have paid off for county and state budgets, as well as for individual families.
"Utilizing the CAC approach, we have better outcomes and we save more than a thousand dollars per case," he said. "Just by utilizing this model that's more effective, we saved our nation a combined $270 million."
The National Symposium on Child Abuse runs through Thursday. It has attracted attendees from every state, and also from other countries interested in adopting a CAC system.
View CAC statistics by state at NationalChildrensAlliance.org.