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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesTEAM APPROACH COMING FOR CHILD ABUSE CASES

TEAM APPROACH COMING FOR CHILD ABUSE CASES

St. John is soon to have a multi-disciplinary team approach to dealing with all reported cases of child abuse, according to Iris Kern, director of the Safety Zone.
The team will consist of police investigators, medical and social service providers, teachers and specially trained volunteers, Kern said. They will have a shared goal of making sure troubled children get the observation and follow-through they need to overcome the effects of abuse and neglect, she added.
Kern, who has been working on the development of the team, said it should be ready to begin work within a month.
The not-for-profit Safety Zone offers intervention and help for families experiencing domestic violence. It also assists victims of crime and helps visitors who are facing crises while away from home.
Last week, with grant support from the National Child Alliance, the Safety Zone sent three volunteers to the 16th annual Symposium on Child Sexual Abuse, held in Huntsville, Ala. There, experts in the field presented close to 40 research papers to a gathering of 1,800 front-line workers — teachers, police, social workers, medical personnel and child safety advocates.
The topics addressed included forming working relationships with non-abusive parents, talking to children about what happened during an incident of abuse, and gathering information to aid in the prosecution of sexual predators. There was also a presentation on the psychological tricks used by predators to keep their victims from reporting abuse.
Safety Zone volunteer Lorna Nichols said she tried at the week-long forum to convey the particular challenges of assisting abused children living on a small island. "This is a close-knit society," she explained. "Everybody talks to each other, but nobody wants to talk to the authorities."
Also attending the symposium were representatives of Family Resource Center, formerly Women's Resource Center, of St. Thomas-St. John. Executive director Michal Rhymer said she sent staff members and volunteers in the preceding three years, but this year she attended the gathering herself, along with social worker Sandra Howard.
Child abuse has been part of life in the Virgin Islands for decades, Rhymer said, but more victims and their families are willing to report abuse and seek help today. As a result, she said, more young victims have a chance at emotional recovery so that they will be able to grow up to live healthy, productive lives.

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St. John is soon to have a multi-disciplinary team approach to dealing with all reported cases of child abuse, according to Iris Kern, director of the Safety Zone.
The team will consist of police investigators, medical and social service providers, teachers and specially trained volunteers, Kern said. They will have a shared goal of making sure troubled children get the observation and follow-through they need to overcome the effects of abuse and neglect, she added.
Kern, who has been working on the development of the team, said it should be ready to begin work within a month.
The not-for-profit Safety Zone offers intervention and help for families experiencing domestic violence. It also assists victims of crime and helps visitors who are facing crises while away from home.
Last week, with grant support from the National Child Alliance, the Safety Zone sent three volunteers to the 16th annual Symposium on Child Sexual Abuse, held in Huntsville, Ala. There, experts in the field presented close to 40 research papers to a gathering of 1,800 front-line workers -- teachers, police, social workers, medical personnel and child safety advocates.
The topics addressed included forming working relationships with non-abusive parents, talking to children about what happened during an incident of abuse, and gathering information to aid in the prosecution of sexual predators. There was also a presentation on the psychological tricks used by predators to keep their victims from reporting abuse.
Safety Zone volunteer Lorna Nichols said she tried at the week-long forum to convey the particular challenges of assisting abused children living on a small island. "This is a close-knit society," she explained. "Everybody talks to each other, but nobody wants to talk to the authorities."
Also attending the symposium were representatives of Family Resource Center, formerly Women's Resource Center, of St. Thomas-St. John. Executive director Michal Rhymer said she sent staff members and volunteers in the preceding three years, but this year she attended the gathering herself, along with social worker Sandra Howard.
Child abuse has been part of life in the Virgin Islands for decades, Rhymer said, but more victims and their families are willing to report abuse and seek help today. As a result, she said, more young victims have a chance at emotional recovery so that they will be able to grow up to live healthy, productive lives.