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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200281 Find in a Library
Title: Keeping Kids on Your Side: An Innovative Approach to Child Sex Abuse Victims
Journal: Prosecutor  Volume:37  Issue:2  Dated:March/April 2003  Pages:20-21,42
Author(s): Mark K. Cavins; J. D. Smith; Lori Smith
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 3
Type: Program/Project Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article describes the work of the child sexual abuse specialist of the Sex Crimes Division of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office (Illinois).
Abstract: The position of child sexual abuse specialist was created in 1998 to combat victim recantation in child sexual abuse cases and to support reluctant victims in felony child sex cases. Funded by an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services grant, the child sexual abuse specialist is a licensed, master's degree level, clinical social worker with an extensive background in the field of child maltreatment. Distinct from other victim support services, the child sexual abuse specialist is assigned to work directly with courtroom prosecutors. The specialist focuses exclusively on cases that have been investigated by police and child protection authorities and charged as felonies by the prosecutor's office. The specialist gives priority to cases that have a high risk of recantation. Such cases typically involve a close relationship between the victim and the defendant, the presence of a disbelieving caretaker, and removal from the home or primary relationship. The specialist is often assigned cases that involve special-need victims; gang involvement by the defendant; serious injury to the victim; victims of young, first-time offenders; and medical issues. Any one or a combination of these factors have been shown to discourage victims and their families from full participation in the criminal justice system. The specialist provides such social work services as crisis intervention, short-term counseling, and case management. In addition to providing assistance in particular cases, the specialist also provides training and consultation to prosecutors on issues of mental health and child maltreatment. The keys to the success of the specialist in contributing to the prosecution's desired case outcome lie in the combination of tenacious legal advocacy; early identification of recantation/reluctance potential; and expedient, ongoing, intense support for victims and their families.
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse; Court social services; Illinois; Prosecution; Prosecutor-victim interaction; Prosecutors; Victim services
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