Preventing violence to children
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 16, 1996 -- Federal officials planned Saturday to set up
an institution in the Los Angeles area to track the deaths and abuse of
children nationwide in the hopes of preventing future violence.
The National Center for Child Fatality Review would be the first
of its kind, officials said, and should help law enforcement realize the
extent of child slayings in their area and the effects of such crimes on
society and child abuse.
The center will be funded by corporate, foundation and federal
government contributions, and operated by Los Angeles County's Inter-
Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, or ICAN, which also initially
shelters abused and neglected children.
The national center was based on the work of ICAN, which has
issued annual reports in the past 12 years on child abuse and death
statistics. These reports have helped chart trends, problems and risk
factors that warrant attention from child protection workers.
As a result, the county Department of Family and Children's
Services Director Peter Digre said his workers have changed their focus
concerning abusive and neglectful parents.
For example, workers are now concentrating their attention on
children who are younger than 5 when ICAN reports showed about 90 percent
of children's deaths occurred in this age group, Digre said.
ICAN statistics also showed that more efforts should be made to
educate men about child deaths, since they are convicted more often than
women in those deaths and are often unaware of the deadly effects of
shaking, hitting or throwing a young child.
Federal officials said the national center is a ``first step'' in
preventing delinquency and crimes against children. In addition, the
center's research would save young lives and improve society in general,
``I don't believe there's a more effective way to create a safe
environment than by eliminating violence against the most helpless members
of society,'' said Los Angeles Sheriff Sherman Block. ``It's like any
other disease -- if you identify the case, you can work to find the
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