I am taken by the hard stories and painful facts in Ruben Rosario’s article on Victor Vieth’s dream of ending child abuse in today’s St Paul Pioneer Press

http://www.twincities.com/ci_14437150

As a guardian ad-Litem, I know that most child abuse cases are not reported. Recently an acquaintance of mine admitted to witnessing the prostitution of a very young girl and not reporting it. He had remorse and said that he had felt confused and endangered at the time.

I personally experienced a case with 49 police calls to an abusive home before the girls were removed from the home (where child abuse had been occurring and prostitutes had been arrested). The seven year old had been the victim of extended sexual abuse (I assumed prostituted).

“As a nation, we have done more to address child abuse in the past 30 years than occurred in the first 200 years of our history,” Vieth writes in an academic paper that has been well-received in the child-protection and justice fields but is virtually unknown in mainstream circles. “Unfortunately, the obstacles that remain are nothing less than mountains.”

One of them is the sad reality that many children suspected of being abused are not reported to the child-protection system.

Vieth cites a 2000 study that found that 65 percent of social workers, 53 percent of physicians and 58 percent of physician assistants did not report all cases of suspected abuse.

Most telling are two hypothetical cases involving teachers — not only mandated reporters, but also possibly the one trusted adult a child comes into daily contact with the most outside the home. Of 197 teachers who took part in the test, only 26 percent said they would contact authorities if a child told them that a relative was touching their genitals. Only 11 percent would do so in the second test, which involves a child accusing another teacher of touching their private parts.

Vieth also notes that even when cases are reported, most are never investigated. A government-commissioned national report this year on abused and neglected children found that most cases of maltreated children “do not get CPS (child-protection services) investigation.”

AIM HIGH

Vieth cites obstacles to reform: inadequate funding and training, as well as the fact that the issue is not a top public or political concern (I would call this a great understatement/MT).

“How many of the people running right now for governor have been asked to submit or have a position paper on child abuse and neglect like they do on crime, health, terrorism or child obesity?” Vieth asked.

I would also take Victor’s statement a step further and ask, how many people running for any public office meet this test?

There are very few political figures willing to speak about this topic. It is a sad truth that our schools are filled with children in need of special services to correct years of maltreatment in the home that will keep them from becoming normal functioning adults. Teachers are being asked to “manage” really difficult children with minimal resources or training and then blamed when the school performs badly.

America does not report or track the amount of psychotropic medications our children are taking nor do we provide adequate mental health services to children that need help until they have committed an act demanding of attention (and not often is the service adequate).

Recent studies show that up to 80% of youth aging out of foster care are leading dysfunctional lives. There are many steps between growing up in a troubled home and aging out of foster care that our communities can make the difference between growing up healthy and spending a life in and out of institutions.

http://www.twincities.com/ci_14437150

Rubén Rosario
Columnist
St. Paul Pioneer Press
345 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
651 228-5454
e-mail: rrosario@pioneerpress.com
www.twincities.com

Ruben’s article;Ruben Rosario: A man’s dream of ending child abuse in U.S. within 120 years
By Rubén Rosario
Updated: 02/22/2010 11:36:19 AM CST

It was the maggot-infested baby that sealed it for Victor Vieth, the man who has a plan to end child abuse in America within 120 years.

Come again? I’ll get back to that, as well as what hybrid corn and the “perfect” chicken have to do with eliminating child abuse.

But back to the maggots tale.

Vieth, who grew up in Winona, was then a rookie prosecutor in Watonwan County in southwestern Minnesota, fresh out of Hamline University Law School. He inherited a “routine” termination of parental rights civil case, which is never routine. They might as well have handed him, on the spot, a tech tutorial on uranium waste disposal. He had never been taught or prepped for something like this.

One of his witnesses, a young male social worker, was struggling to defend himself under a blistering cross-examination as to why he violated state law and took it upon himself to remove the maggot-covered child from the abusive home. Only law enforcement was allowed to do that. You broke state law, the man was told.

“I saw this man break down and cry and say that the baby was covered with maggots, and what was he supposed to do?” recalled Vieth, the founder and executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University.

“We won the case, but it was life-changing for me,” Vieth said. “I went home that night and told my wife what I wanted to do with my life.”

Of course, given the subject matter, there would be more lump-in-the-throat tales that would affirm Vieth’s decision to make the plight of abused and neglected children his life’s work.

There was the 7-year-old girl at his teacher wife’s private school in Virginia. At the time, Vieth headed the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse in Washington, D.C.

The girl was caught performing oral sex on a female classmate. Vieth’s wife, Lisa, reported the incident to the principal. Another case reported to the principal involved a boy so malnourished that he ate crumbs off the classroom floor. When the principal declined to contact authorities in either case, Vieth’s wife and other staffers, at the risk of termination, did it themselves.

MOST CASES NOT REPORTED OR INVESTIGATED

Vieth’s nearly 7-year-old, federally funded center has trained hundreds of front-line professionals — ranging from cops to prosecutors, social workers and nurses — on child-abuse prevention, detection and investigation. It uses mock courtrooms and meth-lab, crack-house and upscale-suburban-home settings to instruct investigators and others on how to sift through clues that might substantiate an allegation of child abuse or neglect.

Plans are to replicate the research- and evidence-based curriculum at 40 other universities in the nation in the coming months, Vieth said.

Better training of professionals who may come into contact with an abused or neglected child is one of the key measures Vieth cites in his intriguing call to end child abuse in America within three generations.

“As a nation, we have done more to address child abuse in the past 30 years than occurred in the first 200 years of our history,” Vieth writes in an academic paper that has been well-received in the child-protection and justice fields but is virtually unknown in mainstream circles. “Unfortunately, the obstacles that remain are nothing less than mountains.”

One of them is the sad reality that many children suspected of being abused are not reported to the child-protection system.

Vieth cites a 2000 study that found that 65 percent of social workers, 53 percent of physicians and 58 percent of physician assistants did not report all cases of suspected abuse.

Most telling are two hypothetical cases involving teachers — not only mandated reporters, but also possibly the one trusted adult a child comes into daily contact with the most outside the home. Of 197 teachers who took part in the test, only 26 percent said they would contact authorities if a child told them that a relative was touching their genitals. Only 11 percent would do so in the second test, which involves a child accusing another teacher of touching their private parts.

Vieth also notes that even when cases are reported, most are never investigated. A government-commissioned national report this year on abused and neglected children found that most cases of maltreated children “do not get CPS (child-protection services) investigation.”

AIM HIGH

Vieth cites obstacles to reform: inadequate funding and training, as well as the fact that the issue is not a top public or political concern.

“How many of the people running right now for governor have been asked to submit or have a position paper on child abuse and neglect like they do on crime, health, terrorism or child obesity?” Vieth asked.

He recalled a child sexual abuse victim who said she deliberately ate herself to obesity to make herself so unattractive that her father would stop abusing her.

“People don’t realize that many of the other problems we have stem from” child abuse, he said.

Vieth’s “battle plan” to end child abuse in three generations includes:

Higher-quality reporting and investigations of child abuse and neglect.
University-level, annual training of professionals entering mandated-reporter occupations.
Better training of child-protection investigators.
Better-trained prosecutors to go after egregious child abusers.
Better public and political advocacy among child-protection workers as well as victims on the issue of child abuse and neglect.
I asked him why he set the bar so high.

“Why not? Anything less is unacceptable,” he said. He brought up Martin Luther King Jr., another dreamer.

“It wasn’t just about the civil rights movement,” Vieth said. “His goal was ending bigotry for all time.”

He brought up Henry Wallace, President Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of agriculture, who also had a Don Quixote-like quest: ending world hunger.

Wallace pushed hard for hybrid corn production to the point that bushel yields per acre tripled from 1931 to 1981. He also crusaded for chicken breeding.

“Even a quarter-century after his death in 1965, one-third of all the eggs consumed in the United States and nearly 50 percent of the eggs consumed in the world were laid by descendants of Wallace’s chickens,” Vieth writes.

A WORTHY DREAM

Sure, world hunger is still out there. So is bigotry. So is child abuse. Why? Many reasons. But where would we be without dreamers?

Vieth believes progress also requires a revolutionary shift in values and attitudes.

“We don’t tolerate child abuse, but we comfort ourselves in the notion that it’s something that happens somewhere else, not in our home, back yard or community,” Vieth said.

“We find comfort in holding onto the stereotype of the dirty old man, and we delude ourselves into thinking that it couldn’t possibly be the person sitting next to us at church for years or the pastor or the priest.

“Child abuse can be eliminated,” he added. “But it will take all of us.”

Dream on.

Rubén Rosario can be reached at rrosario@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5454. .

To read Victor Vieth’s paper, “Unto the Third Generation: A Call to End Child Abuse in the United States within 120 years,” go to http://www.untothethirdgeneration.com./

Sweden has largely eliminated child sex abuse http://www.invisiblechildren.org/2009/10/13/positive-role-models/

There is hope, but we must all participate.

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