Report Finds Changes Are Needed In How Child Abuse Cases Are Handled
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A new report finds "significant problems" with
how severe child abuse cases are being handled by the Department of Children's
Services, law enforcement and other agencies. The Second Look Commission
evaluated reports of repeated incidents child abuse that in the 2010 -2011
fiscal year affected 675 children.
By the time a child comes before Magistrate Carlton Lewis, often times the
system has already failed them.
"We can't look at these cases in a vacuum," Lewis said.
He's part of the Second Look Commission that published a new report that
takes a closer look at where the system is breaking down and offers recommendations
on how to fix it.
"Next to a crystal ball, it's the best thing we got," Lewis said
about the findings.
Carla Snodgrass, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee, read
the report and says protecting children is not just one agency's
"It seems like the cases that got the most attention here were sexual
abuse cases in which children were potentially re-victimized and drug
endangered children," she said.
The report finds agencies are not working together when working with the
same clients; while case workers are responding to incidents, they're not
tackling the root causes of the problem. And investigations are being conducted
by staff that needs additional training.
"I think the report did a great job in doing what it was called to do
and that's to serve as a catalyst," Snodgrass added.
A catalyst many hope will make those who deal with children think about
their responsibility a little differently.
"Change is going to be gradual," Lewis said about what's next.
"But as a result of the work of the Second Look Commission, we're going to
see change that's going to be beneficial to abused children."