A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
The Oswego County Child Advocacy Center recently held its annual meeting. One of the best takeaways from the event was learning from the executive director Karrie Damm that the annual meeting has grown over the last three years from an intimate gathering to a packed dining hall.
About 150 people from throughout the area attended the event appropriately titled “Be the End” on April 24. This was great news in it of itself that so many individuals, professionals, and organizations have committed to Be the End.
Organizers took time to thank the many people who work on the local level to help protect children, and rightfully so.
It takes a lot of coordination on multiple levels, starting from the witness or victim and ending with the judge, to successfully charge an abuser.
The Child Advocacy Center calls those involved in prosecuting abuse their Multi-Disciplinary Team.
These include victim advocates, medical staff who sometimes collect forensic evidence, schools, families, child protective services, the district attorney’s office, mental health agencies, law enforcement and probation officers.
Local professionals were recognized for their work in helping to successfully charge and prosecute child abusers.
Annual statistics were also presented.
Cases of abuse are high.
According to the Office of Child and Family Services, in Oswego County there were 2,267 cases of abuse reported.
In Onondaga County, there were 5,498 cases of abuse reported and in Jefferson County, there were 1,638 cases of child abuse reported.
Sadly, it is estimated that only 1 in 10 cases of child abuse are actually reported.
Within those reported and confirmed cases of abuse, it’s difficult for law enforcement to levy meaningful charges against the abusers.
I’m working to improve our laws so that prosecutors are given the tools they need to better protect children and will soon introduce a comprehensive bill.
My office has been assisted by District Attorney Greg Oakes who has helped identify problems within current law as he sees these cases through to the courts.
Too many times, those who commit repeated abuse are charged with misdemeanors rather than felonies.
I’m seeking to increase penalties where they are needed and to punish those who prey on innocent children.
I’m also seeking to eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual crimes committed against children.
A motto the CAC promotes on its website is “We depend on you.”
If you suspect child abuse, please call the New York State Child Abuse hotline at 1-800-342-3720.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185