SPRINGFIELD, Mo -- A new report from the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children has several different points, but they all point to a central theme--you can't win the war on child abuse if you don't have enough resources and troops to fight it.
"I still think that the public doesn't quite get that these are chronic crimes. This is rarely a one-time event," said Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Barbara Brown-Johnson.
It's not an easy subject to talk about or deal with.
"Almost always this is someone the child knows, loves and trusts who commits the crime against them," said Brown-Johnson.
But sexual child abuse is a reality and an epidemic in Missouri. A report out Thursday says more needs to be done to battle it.
"Keeping kids safe absolutely depends on adequate training," said Brown-Johnson.
Right now, says the report, there isn't enough focus on training. One reason for that is funding.
"There are many problems money can't fix. This is one of them that money helps fix this problem," she said.
Money for training, money for mental health services, and money for public awareness are all pieces of what Brown-Johnson says are part of a larger picture.
"The dragon with the multi-pronged head comes to mind. You can cut one head off and another one grows back. If you don't take a comprehensive approach, it's not going to get fixed."
Right now, the state is spending large amounts of money reacting to dysfunction and abuse. The report argues Missouri could spend much smaller amounts addressing the problem and preventing childhood trauma.
Here's a list of the report recommendations:
1: Community-based child abuse prevention education needs to be expanded and be comprehensive in nature.
2: All schools and youth-serving organizations should have specific child sexual abuse prevention policies.
3: Existing state child abuse prevention programs should include programing targeted at preventing child sexual abuse.
4: Expand home-visiting programs and specifically include child sexual abuse prevention in these programs.
5: Create and implement standardized training for all mandated reporters.
6: Fund the creation and implementation of standardized, discipline-specific training for members of the multi- disciplinary team (MDT) and judges.
7: Identify and fund discipline-specific expert technical assistance for MDT members.8: Establish discipline-specific best practices or standards for multi-disciplinary teams, law enforcement, prosecutors and medical providers.
9: Establish mechanisms for addressing the secondary trauma experienced by individuals who work to address and prevent child sexual abuse.
10: Assess for and address domestic violence when investigating child sexual abuse and providing services to victims and caregivers.11: Identify and fund evidence-based early intervention and treatment for youth with illegal/inappropriate sexual behaviors.
12: Identify and fund the expansion of mental health services to children who have been sexually abused.
14: The General Assembly should consider increased investment in preventing child sexual abuse in order to reduce the substantial financial, health and social costs associated with childhood trauma.
15: Private foundations in Missouri should increase funding to prevent and address childhood trauma.
16: Submit to Missouri voters a proposed constitutional amendment allowing evidence of signature crimes, commonly referred to as propensity evidence, to be used in child sexual abuse cases.
17: Modify 210.115 RSMo. to require mandatory reporters to directly report suspected child abuse and neglect to Children’s Division.
18: Clarify the term “immediately” in the mandatory reporting statute, 210.115 RSMo., and school reporting statute, 167.117 RSMo.
19: Clarify 544.250 RSMo. and 544.280 RSMo. to allow for hearsay evidence at preliminary hearings.
20: Amend 491.075.1 RSMo. to clarify that the statute allows for the use of child witness statements relative to prosecutions under Section 575.270.
21: Modify the definition of deviate sexual intercourse in 566.010 RSMo. to include genital to genital contact.
22: Modify 556.037 RSMo. to eliminate the statute of limitations for the prosecutions of first-degree statutory rape and first-degree statutory sodomy.