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More than 200 people attended a conference on child abuse in Springfield today. KSMU's Missy Shelton spoke with the keynote speaker from the conference, Victor Vieth, Director of Child Abuse Programs for the National District Attorneys Association.
More than 200 people attended a conference on child abuse in Springfield today. The event was organized by Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore. He says the idea is to start a positive dialogue about how to effect change in the community rather than simply bemoaning the high rates of child abuse in our area.
Participants listened to a presentation from Victor Vieth, Director of the Child Abuse programs at the National District Attorneys Association.
He stopped by KSMU after the conference to discuss the problem of child abuse. He says there are five big challenges that prevent communities from reducing child abuse. The first one is a lack of reporting.
Vieth says there are several reasons that so-called mandated reporters, people required by law to report suspected abuse are reluctant to do so.
Vieth says historically, children have been viewed and treated as second class citizens.
Vieth says it's not just mandated reporters who overlook child abuse. He says most people don't want to read about it or think about it.
The other problems that make it difficult to reduce child abuse include a failure to follow-up on reports of abuse. Vieth cites a study that shows 80 percent of all reports in Missouri are screened out with little or no investigation.
Vieth says even when there are investigations, responders don't have proper training. And he says the resources available to investigate child abuse are limited. Finally, he points out that the average age of child abuse victims is three years old but the average age for children entering the court system is ten years old. By that time, they're usually in court as a runaway or delinquent.