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Response team focuses on helping abused kids

By: WJAC Web Staff
CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. --

There are more than a dozen child protection bills in the state legislature, and at a conference Tuesday, local medical professionals and law enforcement discussed changes they may need to make if those bill pass to better assist children in need of help.

The Sexual Assault Response Team also known as SART held its first annual conference and focused on how to better help victims of child abuse.

"In Pennsylvania, we were put on the map through Jerry Sandusky and post-Sandusky. The governor convened a mission to evaluate what needed to change in our child abuse laws," said Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan.

Callihan and the rest of the SART team are focusing on child sexual abuse cases, how they're handled and what training is needed to better help victims. One of the ways to help is having pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners take care of child abuse victims who are sexually assaulted.

The conference was held at the Greater Johnstown High School and the response team covers both Somerset and Cambria counties. In an effort to boost its support system, SART is calling for more educators to increase the communication when it comes to reporting child abuse.

"We've gone to the superintendents to the south and request, they come on our team or appoint a representative from their districts, and we're meeting with the superintendents from the north," Callihan said.

With regard to the response team, Erika Jugan of Victim Services said, "Seeing each other all the time and having the better communication, the victims are really seeing a sense of community that formed around them to heal despite the crime that's happened."

 
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Edgar Snyder

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