Never Leave a Child Unattended
Local Leaders Propose Law Prohibiting Unattended Children In Vehicles – February 11, 2008
For Immediate Release
February 11, 2008
For More Information, contact:
Chris Gaal, Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, 349-2670
Local Leaders Propose Law Prohibiting Unattended Children In Vehicles
Bloomington, IN – Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal, State Senator Vi Simpson, and State Representatives Peggy Welch and Matt Pierce today announced that they intend to explore legislation for the 2009 session that would address the issue of children left in unattended vehicles. Indiana does not have a statute specifically prohibiting this conduct. Current State law only provides for the filing of a felony neglect charge for knowingly or intentionally endangering the life or health of a child. The law does not clearly address the issue of children being left unattended in vehicles. The proposal will give Indiana prosecutors the discretion to file a misdemeanor in response to a child left unattended in a vehicle, while preserving the possibility of a felony charge for more serious endangerment.
“There is a growing awareness that leaving a young child unattended in a car presents dangerous risks to the child,” said Representative Welch. “Medical research indicates that a child’s body is more susceptible to harm from extreme temperatures, and a rapid rise in temperature in a vehicle can occur far more quickly than many people would expect,” she added.
According to research done by the prosecutor’s office, twelve states so far have adopted laws that make leaving a child below a certain age in a vehicle unattended a criminal offense; thirteen other states have proposed similar laws. “We intend to work with others around the state to develop similar legislation for Indiana,” said Senator Vi Simpson.
Monroe County prosecutor Chris Gaal brought this gap in current law to the attention of the local legislators in response to recent neglect cases in Monroe County. Gaal explained the need by saying, “Prosecutors should have the ability to file a misdemeanor charge when appropriate in order to deter the harms that may result from leaving a child unattended in a vehicle.”
Steve Johnson, Executive Director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC), also reviewed the proposed measure. “Under current law, child endangerment must either rise to a felony or it is not charged at all, and there is no middle ground,” said Johnson. “This proposal addresses that problem by providing prosecutors the discretion to file a specific misdemeanor for unattended children in vehicles and gives better guidance for law enforcement.”
In addition to addressing the issue through a legislative initiative, prosecutor Gaal has also organized a local public education campaign aimed at preventing children from being left unattended. The campaign is co-sponsored by the Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, Bloomington Hospital, Bloomington Police Department, Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, and the City of Bloomington Community and Family Resources Department. The campaign will include the distribution of posters throughout the community. The posters will help citizens understand the potential harms from leaving children unattended, including the threat of abduction, heat stroke, wandering off, and drowning. The goal of the campaign is to create greater community awareness of the problem, thus reducing the number of cases of children being left unattended in vehicles.
Child Advocacy Center
Community comes together to develop a Child Advocacy Center in Monroe County – September 21, 2010
Community comes together to develop a Child Advocacy Center in Monroe County
September 21, 2010
In partnership with the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office, Bloomington Police Department, Monroe County Department of Child Services, and Bloomington/Monroe County Community Foundation, Susie’s Place is pleased to participate in a Press Conference announcing the development and implementation of a Child Advocacy Center to serve Monroe, Brown, Owen, Lawrence, and Greene Counties. Susie’s Place is a neutral, child-friendly center for the investigation of alleged child abuse and neglect, while maintaining the child as the first priority.
Utilizing a joint investigative team approach, child advocacy centers are facility-based community partnerships dedicated to pursuing the truth in child abuse investigations. Professionals work as a multidisciplinary team to investigate and intervene in cases of suspected child abuse, primarily sexual abuse.
This multidisciplinary team approach brings together all the professionals and agencies needed to offer comprehensive services: law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, victim advocates, forensic interviewers, mental health and the medical community. Attention to the needs and abilities of children is the hallmark of a child advocacy center. Designed as a safe and welcoming place for children to be heard, child advocacy centers ensure that children are not further victimized by the interventions intended to protect them.
There are over 20 child advocacy centers currently operating in the State of Indiana and over 700 operating nationally. Monroe, Brown, Owen, Greene, and Lawrence counties have been identified as an under-served area for alleged child victims of abuse and neglect due to the lack of access to child advocacy center services within a reasonable driving distance.
“A Steering Committee was developed in early 2010 to examine current issues affecting child abuse investigations in Monroe and surrounding counties and the opportunity for a child advocacy center.” said Emily Perry, Executive Director of Susie’s Place. A review of local statistics indicated that from May 1, 2009 through May 31, 2010, Monroe County Department of Child Services investigated 2,107 reports of child abuse and neglect and over 5,000 child abuse investigations in the five county region.
With an anticipated grand opening of February, 2011, Susie’s Place is working hand in hand with the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office, the Monroe County Department of Child Services, and local law enforcement agencies to develop and implement a child advocacy center that will meet the unique and complex needs of the Monroe County community.
If you would like more information about Susie’s Place or child advocacy centers, please contact Emily Perry at (317) 522-6202, via email at email@example.com, or visit our website www.susiesplace.org.
Susie’s Place a step forward for children – Herald-Times, September 25, 2010
Susie’s Place a step forward for children
September 25, 2010
For children forced into the legal system as victims of sexual assault, visiting police stations and courtrooms can be a frightening ordeal.
Susie’s Place, a joint project of the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bloomington Police Department, the Monroe County Department of Child Services and the Bloomington/Monroe County Community Foundation, is a new child advocacy center where children can be interviewed in a child-friendly setting.
The center, modeled after a similar center in Hendricks County, has pleasing decor, including child-sized chairs and stuffed animals to cuddle during questioning. Audio and video recording equipment is used so child-witnesses don’t have to repeat their sensitive stories to multiple interrogators. Mental health and medical professionals join with forensic personnel as part of a multi-disciplinary team identified to help and protect these children during the investigative process.
Twenty such centers are now operating in Indiana. The Monroe County center, which will serve children in Brown, Owen, Lawrence and Greene counties as well, will be operated by an independent nonprofit organization funded by grants and donations, including a $16,537 grant to furnish the interview room.
Congratulations to the local team and in particular Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal for seeing the need for such an important service.
It’s time we provided such a safe and comfortable sanctuary for children who, through no fault of their own, must undergo the unpleasant and potentially traumatic process of sexual assault investigation.
Child Advocacy Center finds home in Bloomington, Indiana – December 14, 2010
Child Advocacy Center finds home in Bloomington, Indiana
December 14, 2010
Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Center has begun renovations of a 2,800 square foot space on the east side of Bloomington, IN. Through the generosity of a few key organizations and individuals, the child advocacy center will be located in Montauk Point. The ranch style building will consist of two child forensic interview rooms, two multidisciplinary team observation rooms, office space, and a large child and family waiting space.
“Susie’s Place is so thankful for the generosity of Kevin Spicer, Hometown Realtors, and Karen Pitkin, RE/MAX Realty Professionals.” said Emily Perry, Executive Director of Susie’s Place. “When a report is filed involving an allegation of a crime against a child, this space will provide a safe and comfortable setting for children to be forensically interviewed.” says Perry.
Anticipating a Grand Opening in the Spring, 2011, Susie’s Place is working hand in hand with the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office, the Monroe County Department of Child Services, and local Monroe County Law Enforcement agencies to develop and implement a child advocacy center that will meet the unique and complex needs of the Monroe County community.
“Child Advocacy Centers are widely recognized across the country as the best practice for investigations involving child sexual abuse,” said Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal. “Our job is to seek the truth and pursue justice, so it is very important that we have the most reliable and credible information possible to make good charging decisions and effectively prosecute cases where the evidence warrants.”
Utilizing a joint investigative team approach, child advocacy centers are facility-based community partnerships dedicated to pursuing the truth in investigations of crimes against children and allegations of child abuse. Professionals work as a multidisciplinary team to investigate and intervene in cases of suspected child abuse, primarily sexual abuse, and child witnesses to violent crimes.
This multidisciplinary team approach brings together all the professionals and agencies needed to offer comprehensive services: law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, victim advocates, forensic interviewers, mental-health and the medical community. Attention to the needs and abilities of children is the hallmark of a child advocacy center. Designed as a safe and welcoming place for children to be heard, child advocacy centers ensure that children are not further victimized by the interventions intended to protect them.
Susie’s Place is in the process of hiring a full-time Child Forensic Interviewer to staff its Bloomington, IN location. Please visit the Susie’s Place website for more details at www.susiesplace.org.
Susie’s Place is a 501(c)(3) organization and relies on the support of individuals and businesses in the community to fulfill its mission. To learn more about Susie’s Place or how to recognize or report child abuse, visit www.susiesplace.org.
Susie’s Place has a home – Herald-Times, December 16, 2010
Susie’s Place has a home
By Laura Lane 331-4362 | firstname.lastname@example.org
December 16, 2010
Until this week, Monroe County’s child advocacy center had a name, a $16,537 donation to furnish an interview room and big hopes for helping young victims of abuse.
Now, Susie’s Place has a home.
Renovations are under way to convert a 2,800-square-foot ranch style building in Montauk Point on Ind. 46 near the intersection with Ind. 446 on Bloomington’s east side. The building became available “through the generosity of a few key organizations and individuals,” Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal said in a statement announcing the site.
When completed, the building will consist of two child forensic interview rooms, two multidisciplinary team observation rooms, office space and a child and family waiting space.
“When a report is filed involving an allegation of a crime against a child, this space will provide a safe and comfortable setting for children to be forensically interviewed,” said Emily Perry, executive director of Susie’s Place.
Gaal announced plans for Susie’s Place earlier this year, and said then he hoped the child advocacy center would be open in the spring.
It looks as if that will be the case — Susie’s Place is in the process of hiring a full-time child forensic interviewer to staff the office.
“It’s something we should have done a long time ago, years ago,” Gaal said back in September.
In the news release, Gaal said the joint investigative team approach of a child advocacy center helps investigators get to the truth in cases where there are allegations of crimes against children and allegations of child abuse.
Susie’s Place, he said, will be an integral part of making sure children have an opportunity to tell someone what has happened in a non-threatening environment.
For more information, go to www.susiesplace.org.
“Finding Words” training to be held in Bloomington – February 4, 2011
“Finding Words” training to be held in Bloomington
February 4, 2011
Bloomington’s new child advocacy center, Susie’s Place, is preparing to open its doors for the first time in March. The facility will serve child victims of abuse in a local five-county region. In preparation, stakeholders will gather for an intensive training to be held at the Bloomington Convention Center.
The Child First “Finding Words” training was made possible by a generous $34,550.00 grant from the National Children’s Alliance, and will be the first of its kind in the Bloomington area. Nearly forty first-responders will receive five days of advanced-level training at no cost to their departments or organizations.
The training will teach skills necessary to conduct a competent interview of a child abuse victim using a protocol widely employed by child advocacy centers across the country.
Representatives from local law enforcement agencies, the Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, and Department of Child Services will attend the training. In addition, key stakeholders from Owen, Brown, Lawrence, and Greene counties will also participate.
“We will be doing things in a new way, and working together using a team-approach,” said Susie’s Place Executive Director Emily Perry. “So it is important that we are all on the same page and understand why we do things the way we do.”
The “Finding Words” training addresses research explaining how child abuse victims often suffer from complex and conflicting emotions, and may lack the verbal skills to adequately communicate about an abusive event to an adult. The forensic interview protocol is also intended to help police officers, social workers, and prosecutors speak to a child about abuse in a manner consistent with the child’s developmental abilities.
“We want a child interview to use best practices and result in the most credible and reliable information possible,” said Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal. “So we want the interviewer to be the most experienced and well-trained person who knows how to elicit unbiased information from a child so that we can find the truth.”
Renovations have now been completed on the new facility, located in Montauk Point in Bloomington. The facility features two interview rooms, two observation rooms, a comfortable waiting area for family members, administrative space, and sophisticated video equipment for recording interviews. Susie’s Place anticipates a grand opening for community leaders to tour the facility in April.
“We are confident Susie’s Place will be a safe and welcoming space for children to be heard,” said Emily Perry. “And we will work hard to ensure that children are not further traumatized by the interventions intended to protect them.”
Donations of books and toys for children and youth are currently being accepted, as well as, donations of office supplies. Please view the Susie’s Place website for a complete list of needs for the Bloomington child advocacy center at www.susiesplace.org.
Susie’s Place is a 501(c)(3) organization and relies on the support of individuals and businesses in the community to fulfill its mission. To learn more about Susie’s Place or how to recognize or report child abuse, visit www.susiesplace.org.
“Justice in our Communities” training to be held in Bloomington – December 8, 2011
For Immediate Release
December 8, 2011
“JUSTICE IN OUR COMMUNITIES” TRAINING TO BE HELD IN BLOOMINGTON
Bloomington, IN – In recent weeks, allegations and discussions of child sexual abuse have filled the headlines. It is easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed. It is harder to turn our anger and frustration into positive action for child victims.
On December 13-15, 2011, Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Center, in partnership with The National District Attorney’s Association – National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, National Child Protection Training Center, Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, and Indiana Chapter of National Children’s Alliance will host a free three day training at the Bloomington Monroe County Convention Center for over 150 professionals responsible for the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of alleged child victims of crime.
“To be chosen by the National District Attorney’s Association (NDAA) and Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center to host a training of this magnitude and quality speaks volumes about the good work being done in Monroe County to strengthen the community’s ability to protect it’s children,” says Emily Perry, Executive Director of Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Center.
With a mission of providing a neutral, child-friendly center for the investigation of alleged child abuse and neglect, while maintaining the comfort and safety of the child as its first priority, Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Center opened its doors in Bloomington in March, 2011. Since that time Susie’s Place has conducted over 170 child forensic interviews.
Perry goes on to say “This is an incredible opportunity for local law enforcement, child protective services, prosecutors, and treatment providers to receive advanced level training that will directly improve the quality of services and outcomes for children in Monroe County.”
“Having the National District Attorney’s Association (NDAA) select Bloomington is a real honor and a tremendous opportunity for us locally,” said Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal. “These are simply the best trainings available anywhere.”
“The success of creating a child advocacy center brings with it new challenges,” adds Gaal, “and our community will benefit from nationally recognized experts as we continue to develop best practices for coordinating local resources and working as a team.”
Susie’s Place is a 501(C)(3) organization and relies on the support of individuals and businesses in the community to fulfill its mission. To learn more about Susie’s Place or how to recognize or report child abuse, visit www.susiesplace.org or call 812-822-1570.
Prevent Child Abuse Indiana – NET (Nurture, Empower, Transform)
Newly formed Prevent Child Abuse Indiana Council in Monroe County – January 22, 2012
January 22, 2013
For more information contact:
Jeffery Allen email@example.com 812-330-6318
Newly formed Prevent Child Abuse Indiana Council in Monroe County
Bloomington, Indiana – In recent months our nation has been gripped by stories of child abuse and maltreatment. These events bring about grief and fear. We grieve for the most vulnerable among us, for their loss of security, of innocence, and safety. We fear that our own community, our own children will experience victimization. And most often we have questions: How did this happen? What can we do to prevent this?
In response to the need for a cohesive and proactive approach to address these issues, the Asset Building Coalition of Monroe County (ABC) and the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office coordinated efforts to create a new resource designed to focus on preventing child abuse and neglect. The result is the newly formed Monroe County chartered council of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. ABC serves as the parent organization of the Council, named NET—Nurture, Engage, Transform.
Officially chartered in December 2012, NET will focus on proactive, neighborhood based solutions for primary prevention. Jeffery Allen, president of the council, states: “Primary prevention is defined as reaching the entire community, regardless of risk factors. Our aim is to work with a neighborhood association—specifically Broadview—in building successful strategies to reduce the stressors that may lead to abuse and neglect. There is no degree in parenting—so we ask our neighborhood partners to share what they know, as we serve to make connections and other development opportunities.”
A task force of concerned citizens and youth service providers set forth on the job of creating the council at the behest of Monroe County Prosecutor, Chris Gaal. Recognizing it is “too late” when families are in the system, a challenge was laid to the ABC board to find a way to reform the defunct council. Beginning in May 2012, led by Lara Weaver, Monroe County Prosecutors Office, Beth Krouse, Richard-Bean Blossom Community School Corp and Jeffery Allen, Ivy Tech, a team of community volunteers donated effort in monthly meeting to define the council, its role, and community-based actions. By December 2012, the council was formed an officers elected.
“Our goal is to work closely with Broadview Neighborhood Association to nurture a neighborhood specific approach that builds on the strengths of the neighborhood as well as finding resources and supports for areas of need. We are already planning a family event in the Broadview Neighborhood in April and a community wide awareness event in June” says Debra Morrow, secretary for the council and Broadview Neighborhood Association member.
NET will serve as a provider of resources outside the scope of the normal avenues available to a neighborhood association. “We hope to pay forward what we learn to other neighborhoods as we discover new ways to help fulfill the vision of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana and of Bloomington as a safe and civil city.” says Elizabeth Lopez, treasurer for the council.
“As our partners in this,” says Lara Weaver, ” Prevent Child Abuse Indiana reminds us that anything we do to support kids and parents in our individual families and communities helps to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and creates the kind of community we all want for our children”
To learn more about the Prevent Child Abuse Indiana visit the website: www.pcain.org.
Child abuse cases rise in Indiana – Indiana Daily Student, January 23, 2013
Child abuse cases rise in Indiana
By MEGAN JULA | IDS
POSTED AT 10:40 PM ON JAN. 23, 2013 (UPDATED AT 12:18 AM ON JAN. 24, 2013)
Mary Armstrong-Smith from Prevent Child Abuse Indiana awards NET president Jeff Allen with an official charter certificate at a press conference Wednesday at the Broadview Learning Center. County and city employees gathered for a press conference announcing the creation of a Bloomington chapter of Prevent Child Abuse NET to create neighborhood-based prevention solutions to child abuse.
Jeffery Allen stood behind the Broadview Learning Center lectern Wednesday, a blue pinwheel, the symbol of Prevent Child Abuse America, pinned to his lapel.
He announced the formation of Nurture Engage and Transform, the Bloomington chapter of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, an organization working to prevent child abuse and neglect in Indiana.
“The aim is simple,” said Allen, president of NET. “To fully realize the vision of Monroe County and Bloomington by addressing the common stresses that can lead to abuse and neglect.”
The Bloomington chapter specially selected the name NET.
“We liked the image of a net, the security of having a safety net,” Allen said. “It speaks to what our chapter wants to adhere to.”
Mayor Mark Kruzan spoke at the event, reflecting on his past work to combat child abuse.
“I’m happy to see how much has happened since then, but one glaring issue remains, and that is fatalities,” Kruzan said.
“When you have 30 to 50 fatalities a year on your hands, that’s a crisis.”
He spoke about the costs of child abuse — the loss of life, the opportunities lost and the costs to social services.
“This is done for the generation of children that will suffer if nothing is done,” he said.
The Asset Building Coalition of Monroe County and the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office collaborated to form the new chapter.
Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal proposed the idea of forming the Bloomington chapter to ABC.
He recalled the child abuse and neglect cases he encountered during the years.
“It was a terrible tragedy when a child was hurt in the community,” he said.
“We need to do something to prevent those terrible cases from happening in the first place.”
He spoke about recent initiatives to prevent child abuse, such as the formation of Susie’s Place, a child advocacy center in Bloomington.
He hopes the new chapter will not only respond to the problem of child abuse, but also prevent new occurrences.
“We have to be always thinking about more than our response,” Gaal said. “We have to think about how to get out in front of the problem.”
Emily Perry, director of Susie’s Place, said she hopes to continue working with NET.
She said the need for prevention is exemplified by the increase in cases Susie’s Place has seen in the past years — from 31 cases in 2010 to 169 cases in 2012.
“We don’t want to meet those kids,” she said. “The key is to get them before they ever get to that point.”
Mary Armstrong-Smith, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana community partners director, presented the Bloomington council with their official charter.
“There are all kinds of people, artists, mechanics (and) cashiers that can do something in our community that can make it less likely for a child to be hurt,” she said. “Our communities are interconnected. They are woven together. That’s why the process of getting together is crucial.”
Allen said the chapter plans to begin the year by partnering with the Broadview Neighborhood Association.
He said this partnership will focus on the needs of the neighborhood and create a strong model to expand to other neighborhoods in the future.
“We’re not doing this because it’s easy, we are doing this because it is hard and it is necessary,” he said.
To report an incident of child abuse or neglect in Monroe County, Monroe county child services can be contacted at 812-336-6351.
Preventing child abuse goal of NET, a new local group – Herald-Times, January 24, 2013
Preventing child abuse goal of NET, a new local group
NET to approach issue on a neighborhood level, starting in Broadview
By Dann Denny 331-4350 | firstname.lastname@example.org
January 24, 2013
Neighbors helping neighbors. That’s the concept behind the formation of a Bloomington chapter of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana called NET — Nurture, Engage, Transform.
Jeffery Allen, president of the new chapter, said at a news conference Wednesday at the Broadview Learning Center that of the more than 40 such chapters in the state, NET is the only one that is taking a neighborhood approach to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
“Our aim is to promote primary prevention through neighborhood partnerships in developing community-based solutions to the problem,” Allen said. “We will begin by partnering with the Broadview Neighborhood Association, working with the idea that there is no degree in parenting, so share what you know.”
Allen said neighborhood residents will be encouraged to share not only their parenting expertise but parenting frustrations, and to offer a helping hand to parents who seem to be struggling or stressed out.
“It might be as simple as offering comfort to a parent whose little one is having a meltdown,” said Allen, a new parent himself. “It might be saying something like, ‘I know how you feel, let me help you out.’”
Allen said the new chapter also plans to offer stress-reduction workshops and family-friendly neighborhood events.
“By partnering with neighborhoods, we will address issues with collective effort rather than paternal oversight,” he said. “It’s been shown that programs work when there is buy-in from the community and don’t work when a paternalistic approach is used.”
Allen said the chapter will use what it learns from its collaborative effort with the Broadview neighborhood and expand its reach to other neighborhoods in Bloomington, being careful to tailor its approach to fit each neighborhood.
Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal, whose office spearheaded the formation of the new chapter along with the Asset Building Coalition in Bloomington — NET’s parent organization and funding source — said when it comes to child abuse and neglect, prevention is often the missing piece to the puzzle.
“We need to do something more than react to situations of child abuse,” he said. “We need to get in front of the problem so we can prevent these terrible tragedies.”
He said factors that can lead to child abuse include financial stress, relationship problems, lack of parenting skills and alcohol and drug abuse. “These are huge social problems — more than any one organization can address,” he said. “But we can work together to prevent abuse from happening.”
Mayor Mark Kruzan echoed that sentiment, saying the prevention of child abuse and neglect — in addition to being a moral imperative — can help children achieve their full potential and pre-empt what could become a multigenerational cycle of abuse.
“The cycle of abuse is well documented,” Kruzan said. “So the creation of this chapter is not being done just for children today, but for a generation of children that will suffer if nothing is done.”
Kruzan said neighborhood-based prevention efforts might be able to avert some of the 30 to 50 deaths of Hoosier children that typically occur each year due to abuse or neglect.
Emily Perry, executive director of Susie’s Place, a child advocacy center with facilities in Bloomington and Avon, said when Susie’s Place began in Bloomington in 2010, it was involved in investigating 31 cases of crimes against children during the year. In 2012, it handled 169 cases.
“We respond to allegations of abuse by doing interviews with children after the abuse has occurred,” she said. “But our vision is to strengthen the community’s ability to protect children in the first place.”
If you suspect child abuse or neglect, you can call the Child Protective Services 24-7 hotline at 1-800-800-5556.
About the group
Prevent Child Abuse Indiana is a statewide organization that helps prevent child abuse and neglect by increasing awareness of the problem, serving as a resource for people and organizations and advocating for programs designed to prevent child abuse.
It is a division of the Villages, a private nonprofit child and family services agency that has 20 offices throughout the state and provides child and family services to more than 1,200 children and their families each day.
New Child Abuse Pediatric Medical Exam Program Starts In Bloomington – May 9, 2017
For Immediate Release
May 9, 2017
For More Information, contact:
Chris Gaal, Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney
New Child Abuse Pediatric Medical Exam Program Starts In Bloomington
Bloomington, IN — Go to Indianapolis. That was where a child was referred when a sexual abuse investigation called for a pediatric forensic medical exam. Then in many cases the medical exam didn’t happen – either due to scarce resources, or because of the transportation hardship imposed on low-income families. Not only did that response fail the child, but it also left the abuse investigation incomplete.
Now thanks to a collaboration between Riley Physicians for Children IU Health and Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Center, local victims of child abuse will be able to receive a free forensic exam from a specially trained medical professional in Bloomington.
“We have been working together to make this happen in Bloomington for a long time,” said Emily Perry, Executive Director of Susie’s Place, “because we strongly believe that every child who needs a forensic medical exam should be able to get one regardless of their circumstances.”
In 2008, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program was created to provide forensic medical exams for adult victims of sexual assault at I.U. Health Bloomington Hospital. Then in 2011, Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Center opened its doors in Bloomington to provide forensic interviews for child victims of suspected abuse. Since then the need for a pediatric version of the SANE program (or P-SANE) has been regarded as a high priority next step. After years working toward achieving that goal, such a program is now up and running.
The new pediatric forensic medical exam program will collect and document evidence following suspected child sexual abuse, and provide appropriate follow-up health care and counseling referrals.
“Even if it doesn’t reveal any additional evidence of abuse,” said Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal, “a pediatric forensic medical exam is necessary to show that a complete and thorough investigation was conducted.”
Dr. Richard Malone of Riley Physicians will act as Medical Director for the new program, and will personally conduct regular exams at Susie’s Place in Bloomington.
“Providing a prompt pediatric forensic medical exam should be the standard of care in these cases,” said Dr. Malone, “not only to document possible abuse but also to reassure both the child and their families when there are normal physical findings.”
Danielle Benedek, a Family Nurse Practitioner who specializes in the care of pediatric victims of sexual assault, will also conduct exams of alleged child victims at Susie’s Place. She has already volunteered countless hours of service and expertise to help get the new program off the ground.
“This is certainly worth celebrating,” said Benedek. “It represents a major step forward to better protect children in our community.”
Dr. Malone plans to work closely with Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, which will provide additional resources and case review to support the local effort in Bloomington.