Agencies increase communication to combat child abuse - Tucson News Now

Agencies increase communication to combat child abuse

A panel answers questions from the crowd at Tuesday's training seminar. A panel answers questions from the crowd at Tuesday's training seminar.
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Organizations and agencies from across Southern Arizona are teaming up to increase awareness and communication about child abuse.

More than 100 members of law enforcement, Child ProtectiveServices and healthcare providers packed into a special training seminar onPima Community College's West campus all day Tuesday. 

Sharon Hollingsworth, a program manager for the college'sPublic Safety and Emergency Services Institute, said the response from people in the crowd echoed organizers' reason for the training – more communication among the numerous agencies that handle abuse cases.

"It emphasized that this type of information really needs to be discussed," said Hollingsworth. "We have to have collaboration between the organizations to really understand what our role is in the prevention of child abuse."

Southern Arizona Children's Advocacy Center asked the college to help host Tuesday's seminar, according to Dr. Dale Woolridge. As the medical director of SACAC, Woolridge said an increase in child abuse cases in the last couple of years prompted the agency to put on the event.

"The reality of it is that child abuse is one of the most underreported crimes," he said. "It happens everywhere."

In his presentation, Woolridge used statistics to highlight the seriousness of child abuse.

Abused children under the age of three returned to their homes have a 50% chance of being abused again he said. Their chance of death is10%, but that number jumps to 40% for children younger than 1 year old.

It isn't always obvious when or where child abuse happens.Presenters discussed the warning signs of child abuse, so that first responders like law enforcement have a better understanding of what to look for when they're handling a separate incident in a home.

Officer Phillip Smith with Globe Police Department traveled more than 100 miles for Tuesday's conference. He said the information is helpful for police, because some folks will go to great lengths to cover up any signs of abuse.

He said you should not hold back if you suspect a child has been or is being abused.

"We'd rather have acase or a concern shared and reported and it be nothing than have some child or vulnerable adult or anybody become a victim and continue to be a victim because it was not reported," said Smith.

All of Tuesday's training has been recorded, so interested agencies can contact PCC's Public Safety and Emergency Services Institute for a copy or more information.

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