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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 20, 2013

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Professionals in child-abuse investigation and treatment, including some from Texas, are meeting this week in Alabama for the National Symposium on Child Abuse.

The conference features discussions on the latest research on a variety of topics - including, said Chris Newlin, executive director of the National Children's Advocacy Centers, a holistic approach to care - all under one roof.

"Child abuse, especially child sexual abuse, is not just a criminal justice issue, not just a Child Protective Services issue," Newlin 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."

Newlin said his organization is seeing a troubling trend - an increase in child neglect across the nation. In Texas, Children's Advocacy Centers served more than 26,000 children last year. More than two-thirds of them reported sexual abuse, with the alleged perpetrator most often related to or known to the child.

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 setting 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 $1,000 per case," he said. "Just by utilizing this model that's more effective, we saved our nation a combined $270 million."

Newlin said the symposium has attracted people from every state and from other countries interested in adopting a CAC system.

More information is online at nationalchildrensalliance.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX