Missouri’s Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children has made 22 recommendations to the Governor and legislature.
The Task Force was created by lawmakers in 2011, and brought together advocates, legislators, educators and professionals to better protect children in Missouri from sex abuse. Joy Oesterly with Missouri Kids First says shortly after the task force was created, the sex abuse scandal at Penn State broke, bringing national attention to the problem.
Oesterly says the recommendations focus on community-based support, mental health services, changes in statute and preventative education. She also stresses the importance of mental health services — both for child victims as well as youth who exhibit inappropriate or illegal sexual behavior. She says hope and recovery is possible for the future of both of them.
Here’s a list of the 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.
13: Create and fund a child sexual abuse public awareness campaign.
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.
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