Child service providers learn how to help abuse victims

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 26, 2001

Victims of child abuse usually have to deal with a lot oftrauma, but a group of Lincoln County business people are workingto reduce that as much as possible.

Over the past few months, a group of child service providers hasmet at least once a month to discuss more effective and more gentleways of handling child abuse cases in the area.

“We want to make sure that the child is being served to thefullest capacity,” said Bente’ Hess, a licensed social worker withSouthwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center.

Representatives from the district attorney’s office, sheriff’sdepartment, Southwest Mental Health, Department of Human Services,health department and Lincoln County Schools are also a part of themulti-disciplinary team.

The team’s mission is to provide prevention, education andawareness of child abuse and to ensure the safety of victims. Theyalso want to reduce the emotional trauma and revictimization of theabuse/neglected child during investigation and prosecution bylinking all available resources to effectively prosecute all childabuse cases.

“Sometimes our services can overlap, and we don’t want that tohappen too often,” said Hess, explaining how difficult it could befor a child to answer the same type questions over and overagain.

The idea for the team began in December 1999 with the help of agrant the South Mississippi Child Advocacy Center in Gulfportreceived to train and set up multi-disciplinary teams in 39counties.

Bryan Vonder Bruegge, program coordinator, helps the childservice providers learn to work together better by providing avariety of training courses for them.

“Basically we try to find out from them what type of trainingthey want and what type of things the need to work togetherefficiently,” he said, mentioning a forensics interview trainingcourse the team has already completed.

Team members hope their training efforts will be very beneficialto the children in the area.