Attorney general testifies to commission aiming to end child abuse, neglect

stock image | St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes testified in front of the bipartisan U.S congressional and presidential Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities as part of the national organization’s public meeting in Salt Lake City.

The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, also called CECANF, was established to develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing fatalities resulting from child abuse and neglect. The purpose of the meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, where Reyes testified, was to explore key research, policy and practice in the state of Utah related to addressing and preventing child abuse and neglect fatalities.

Commission members are appointed by Congress with approval of President Obama.

“We always appreciate when organizations take the time to listen and learn about Utah’s efforts to problem solve,” Reyes said. “Today, it was a rare opportunity for me to address a Congressionally-appointed body regarding the many ways my office is dedicated to keeping families safe and is particularly aggressive on crimes that involve children.”

Reyes said many efforts in the attorney general’s office are to reduce and curtail all types of child abuse that could lead to fatalities, including the office’s recent partnership with Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services to launch One With Courage Utah.

One With Courage Utah is a local campaign created in correlation with a national initiative to raise awareness about child sexual abuse, while highlighting the unique role of Children’s Justice Centers in bringing partner agencies together and providing services. There are 22 Children’s Justice Centers throughout Utah that serve victims of child physical and sexual abuse.

“Because serious physical abuse cases present unique challenges, a committee of local and state agencies recently convened at the Salt Lake CJC to identify problems and propose solutions for improving the response, with the goal of testing a pilot project,” Reyes said. “Many from our office, including our Director of our Child Protection Division discussed solutions — including advanced training and development of rapid response protocols to improve coordination. The information was shared with all CJCs to identify common problems and solutions for their respective areas, based on community dynamics and available resources.”

In 2010, the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, comprising five national advocacy organizations, was formed to address the escalating number of children in the United States who die each year from abuse and neglect. One major milestone in the coalition’s efforts was the introduction and passage of the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012, which garnered broad, bipartisan support in the House, passed the Senate unanimously and was signed by President Barack Obama on January 14, 2013.

One of the key provisions of the act was the establishment of the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, whose mission is to develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing fatalities across the country resulting from child abuse and neglect.

Submitted by the Office of Utah Attorney General

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