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March 20, 2012 > Improved support for child abuse victims

Improved support for child abuse victims

Submitted By Andrew LaMar

Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro) has introduced legislation to improve the prosecution of child abuse crimes and the care of victims by establishing child advocacy centers in each county.

Senate Bill 1352 encourages each county to establish a child advocacy center and promotes multi-agency collaboration. The primary goal is to reduce trauma to child abuse victims, who are forced to re-live the original agony of the crime with follow-up interviews, as a case makes its way through the criminal justice system.

This legislation coordinates the child's interview to include professionals from multiple agencies including law enforcement, child protective services and prosecution. This coordination helps limit the required follow-up interviews and makes sure they are handled appropriately.

"We know victims of child abuse suffer enormous anguish after the initial crime is committed," Corbett said. "This legislation is common sense to improve support for child abuse victims and make sure prosecutors get the information they need to ensure justice is done."

The legislation is sponsored by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

"We thank Senator Corbett for this important legislation," said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley. "Children's Advocacy Centers are modeled on the simple but powerful concept of coordination between professionals involved in the investigation and intervention of child abuse.

"These centers promote the most effective child and family-focused system response possible. Children who report being sexually abused or who have witnessed violence in their homes should not have to tell what happened over and over again. By bringing together representatives from many disciplines, including law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy to work together, one comprehensive interview in a safe environment is conducted and the team can work together to address the investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child abuse cases."

For more information, visit www.sen.ca.gov/corbett

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