A task force on how child abuse is recognized and reported to authorities has called for streamlining the process to eliminate lack of communication among schools and the involved agencies, city officials said Monday.
A report, which caps a three-year effort by the Los Angeles City Attorney Task Force on Child Abuse Investigations, will be mailed starting this week to nearly 1,400 law enforcement agencies, school districts and child-protection agencies statewide. The Los Angeles Unified School District has already agreed to implement the recommendations, including:
* Improve the training of educators on reporting child abuse, including identifying signs and symptoms, knowing which agency to call for each type of report and submitting reports in a timely fashion.
* Support legislation allowing local law enforcement to ask school police to conduct initial investigations.
* Require child-welfare workers to notify school principals in writing when a child has been removed from the home.
* And develop policy with local law enforcement and prosecutors to conduct interviews of alleged child abuse victims by a multi-agency team, when possible.
The 16-member task force came out of an April 2003 summit organized by City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and the school district.
At a news conference in the courtyard of Leo Politi Elementary School near downtown Los Angeles, Delgadillo called on schools to immediately institute the policies.
"As a father and chief prosecutor of Los Angeles, I'm reminded daily of the impact that child abuse has on our children's future," Delgadillo said.
He noted that children who have been abused have lower reading and math skills and are 25 times more likely to repeat a grade. He also said child abuse increases the chances of adult criminal behavior by 28%, and of violent crime by 30%.
"Stopping child abuse prevents crime and saves lives," Delgadillo said.
According to law enforcement statistics, 491,926 children in California were reported as victims of abuse in 2004.