Task force publishes child sexual abuse prevention report

Rep Marsha Haefner on child sex abouse.

Jefferson City, Mo. - Twenty-two separate recommendations on how to prevent sexual abuse of children in Missouri. That’s how a 14-member governor’s task force sees it in a report published Thursday.

The group made up of lawmakers, children’s advocates, police officers, doctors and teachers spent most of the last year studying the issue. They call child sexual abuse a “silent epidemic in Missouri and throughout the nation.”

The group says 25 percent of girls and 16 percent of boys will be victimized.

The comprehensive report by the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children outlines everything from helping parents work with children to prevent abuse to changing multiple state statutes to better enforce laws for sex crimes for against children.

Rita Oesterly of Missouri Kids First says the report is wide-ranging for a reason.

“Because it will take a combination of all of these recommendations in order to make true progress in protecting children in Missouri.”

State Representative Marsha Haefner of St. Louis says Missouri law allows for a layer between a mandated reporter and law enforcement or child welfare agencies.

“They can report the information they have to others in their organization, who then will determine if a report is going to be made or not. This was the failure in the system in Pennsylvania and current Missouri law allows the potential for this failure too.”

Haefner says she will introduce legislation to get rid of that loophole.

You can read the report at www-dot-missourikidsfirst-dot-org.