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National Symposium on Child Abuse: New Research, More Teamwork

PHOTO: Chris Newlin is executive director of the National Children's Advocacy Center. About 850 CACs around the U.S. handled 267,000 child abuse cases in 2012. Courtesy of National CAC.
PHOTO: Chris Newlin is executive director of the National Children's Advocacy Center. About 850 CACs around the U.S. handled 267,000 child abuse cases in 2012. Courtesy of National CAC.
March 19, 2013

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Professionals in child abuse investigation and treatment - including some from Indiana - are meeting this week in Alabama. At the National Symposium on Child Abuse, they'll get the latest research on topics such as trauma-focused therapy, sex trafficking and online exploitation. More than 7400 Hoosier youngsters were seen last year at Children's Advocacy Centers, where they were interviewed by specially-trained investigators and received medical treatment and counseling.

According to the executive director of the National Children's Advocacy Center, Chris Newlin, it's less stressful for kids and families to be able 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," he said. "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."

In Indiana, nearly 6,000 cases of child sexual abuse were reported last year.

Newlin said another troubling trend nationwide is an increase in child neglect.

There are 850 Children's Advocacy Centers nationwide. They also provide child-abuse prevention training to more than a half-million people a year.

Newlin said the child-friendly settings and team strategy have paid off for county and state budgets, and 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, attracting people from every state and also from other countries interested in adopting a CAC system.

View CAC statistics by state at NationalChildrensAlliance.org.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN