KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The rate of child sex abuse in Missouri is one of the worst in the nation, so now the state is taking action by appointing a task force to tackle the problem once and for all.
Research shows 25 percent of girls and 16 percent of boys are sexually abused as children.
On Thursday, the Task Force on the Sexual Abuse of Children issued a 12-point plan calling for sweeping changes.
The 14-person task force is composed of Missouri lawmakers, advocates and law enforcement.
One of their recommendations involves modifying the mandated reporter laws. Currently, how it works is the person who hears about the abuse must tell a supervisor, who then is responsible to call a state hotline. Task force members say many times these supervisors fail to follow through, so the state wants to eliminate the middle man.
Another problem is how resources, such as advocacy and treatment centers, are allocated throughout the state. Some counties are lacking, which means that children may not get the help they need depending on where they live.
“There is a wide range of quality, if you will, from county to county, both in how cases are investigated, how children are talked to, how, even if, cases go to trial,” said Barbara Brown-Johnson, Executive Director of Springfield’s Child Advocacy Center.
The task force suggests a big increase in state funding to fight the problem, specifically going towards public awareness campaigns, mental health services and treatment centers.