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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    Senate Document No. 11
    PUBLICATION YEAR 1994

    Document Title
    Sexual Abuse Prevention Treatment Programs

    Author
    Department of Education; Department of Mental Health; Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services; Department of Youth and Family Services; Department of Correctional Education

    Enabling Authority
    SJR 285 (Regular Session, 1993)

    Executive Summary
    This study was conducted during the spring and summer of 1993 in response to Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 285. The resolution requested the Departments of Education; Youth and Family Services; Social Services; Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services; and Correctional Education to make development of child sexual abuse prevention programs a priority in the next biennium. Such programs could include improved employment screening tools and educational programs for professionals working with children.

    Objectives of the Study

    • review current employment hiring practices,

    • review current educational programs for professionals,

    • develop strategies to encourage agencies to prepare staff educational programs,

    • prepare recommendations for improvement of employment screening tools when hiring professionals, and

    • review current educational programs for children who are in state care.

    Sources of Information

    • review of current policies,

    • review of the Family Life Education Curriculum regarding child abuse and child sexual assault,

    • analysis of the need to promote further educational programs for staff, and

    • analysis of the need to promote greater coordination among agencies and organizations.

    Overview of Child Sexual Assault

    The issue of child sexual assault is one that confronts us daily as we read newspapers, listen to the news, or have personal knowledge of a child who was a victim of sexual assault. From the report of The Commission on the Reduction of Sexual Assault victimization in Virginia, Senate Document No. 31, (1993), it is known that:

    • one in four girls and one in ten boys will be a victim of sexual assault of some kind before they reach the age of 18, and

    • 20 percent of Virginia's adult prison population have been arrested for sexual offenses at some time. Many of them were also victims of child sexual assault. The data make clear there is a need for appropriate treatment of child victims and for comprehensive services to reduce the risk of child sexual assault. Prevention includes providing children with the information they need to protect themselves from harm, as well as educational efforts directed at parents and the community at large. Professionals who work with children must be aware of the dynamics, scope, and impact of child sexual assault so they can identify and respond to the needs of the child.

    Findings of the Study:

    • The use of background checks as an employment screening practice varies among agencies represented in the study. Educational programs regarding child sexual assault are not uniformly available for professionals working with children.

    • Agencies represented in the study have given direction and assistance to localities on child abuse and child sexual assault related to prevention and treatment. It is acknowledged, however, that these efforts should be ongoing and strengthened.

    • The Family Life Education program includes instructional objectives for dealing with sexual assault on children, and the objectives were modified for children with special needs. The Family Life Education program is accessible to all public school children and children in private accredited facilities.

    • Specialized programs on preventing or coping with sexual assault are not uniformly available for children in state care, i.e., in state custody or in a facility operated by the state.

    • Educational programs for parents and local communities targeted at preventing child sexual abuse need to be comprehensive and ongoing.

    Recommendations

    Status of Employment and Screening Practices

    1. A child abuse informational packet with emphasis on child sexual assault be given to every new employee who works with children as part of his or her orientation. This would assure that all new employees have current information.

    • Request the Department of Social Services to coordinate this effort.

    2. CORE licensing regulations be revised to include requirements for criminal record checks and Child Abuse/Neglect Central Registry screening for all prospective staff providing direct services to children and adolescents.

    • Request a General Assembly resolution.

    Status of Educational Programs for Professionals

    3. Continuing education be provided for professional personnel who conduct assessment, referral, and treatment services for sexual abuse victims.

    • Request agencies to provide these services as resources allow.

    4. Every child who is the victim of sexual assault should receive needed services.

    • Consider recommendations from SJR 277.

    [NOTE: • designates an implementation strategy]

    Programs for Children in State Care

    5. All agencies providing services for children in state care should review, revise, and strengthen sexual assault programs designed to teach children how to protect themselves from abuse and neglect and to provide treatment for children who have been victimized.

    • Direct appropriate agencies to complete the review and enhancement within the next biennium.

    6. Increase funding to support performances of "Hugs and Kisses" for children in kindergarten through grade 3.

    • Request a budget addendum of $200,000 to the Department of Social Services.

    Prevention Education Programs for Parents and Communities

    7. Provide and earmark funding through the Virginia Family Violence Prevention grant program for the development and implementation of comprehensive educational programs targeted at parents and the community at large.

    • Request a budget addendum of $500,000 to the Department of Social Services.

    8. Distribute information about the prevention and identification of child abuse and neglect to parents of all children entering public kindergarten in September 1995.

    • Request a budget addendum of $150,000 to the Department of Education.