Report Finds Changes Are Needed In How Child Abuse Cases Are Han - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Report Finds Changes Are Needed In How Child Abuse Cases Are Handled

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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 responsibility.

"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."


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