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,

they said.

``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

cure.''

 

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