Spartanburg, S.C. – The headlines are becoming far too common. We read about and see images of children who are abused, beaten and often killed by their parents, family members, babysitters, or friends of the family. Far too young to defend themselves and too fearful to share their stories with someone who could perhaps protect them, these children suffer from abuse at the hands for those who should provide love and affection.
News coverage from the training:
Spartanburg County reported 479 founded investigations for child abuse and neglect in 2014, up from 419 in 2013, according to an Annie E. Casey Foundation annual report on child well-being, and South Carolina ranked 45 out of 50 states for overall child well-being in 2014.
University of South Carolina Upstate aims to lower those statistics with its establishment of the USC Upstate Child Protection Training Center, which consists of a Mock House and the Charles J. Hodge Mock Courtroom that will address the critical need for simulated training in investigations and child safety. The intent of the Center, located at the George Dean Johnson, Jr. School of Business and Economics, is to impact the well-being of children by training child protection professionals to improve their skills in detection, reporting and responding to child abuse and neglect.
The mock house will provide experiential training for professionals designed around evidence-based practices in a realistic setting. First responders and direct service providers like crime scene investigators, child abuse investigators, EMTs, animal control, police, teachers, psychologists, social workers, advocates and attorneys will see firsthand the scene of child abuse.
The dual-purpose mock courtroom/classroom will be used for trial preparation. The strength of our child abuse professionals’ court testimony is often the key evidence that puts offenders behind bars. However, many child abuse professionals lack the training for testifying in court.
The Center’s first training “From Crime Scene to Trial,” is taking place October 28-30. Of special note is the training on Thursday, October 29 when participant will spend the day in the Mock House to receive hands-on training in crime scene investigation, witness interviews, multidisciplinary staff meetings, child maltreatment evidence issues, and team staffing and statement preparation.
Schedule for the day:
8:30-9:15 a.m. Photograph Use in the Forensic Interview
Tabitha Weber, LISW-CP, Clinical Director, Children’s Advocacy Center
9:15-11:45 a.m. Crime Scene Investigation, witness interviews, MDT staff meetings
11:45-1:00 p.m. Lunch will be provided
1:00-2:00 p.m. Crime Scene Investigation (cont.)
2:00-3:00 p.m. Child Maltreatment Evidence Issues (prosecutors/district attorneys)
3:00-4:00 p.m. Team Staffing and Statement Preparation
Funded by The Duke Endowment, training is being led by founder and senior director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center Victor Vieth and Nicki Cantrell, a South Carolina expert who is a lead investigator on child fatalities for SLED. Registered participants include multi-disciplinary teams from Spartanburg, Greenville, Pickens and Cherokee Counties.
“This course involves instruction in corroboration of evidence, abusive head trauma and sexual assault investigation, interrogation/interview techniques,” said Dr. Jennifer Parker, director of the Center for Child Advocacy Studies and is the program director for the Child Protection Training Center at USC Upstate.
“The course is intended for multi-disciplinary teams consisting of four to five participants, consisting of law enforcement, prosecution and child protection representation. Forensic interviewers, child advocacy center staff and other members will benefit as well. The course is intended to help teams understand how an investigation proceeds from the initial call through the charging process.”