A Greenville couple, Bob and Lisa Castellani, recently donated $250,000 to commission the National Child Protection Training Center to do a comprehensive evaluation of the state of South Carolina on child sexual abuse victims and those who commit the crimes.
Silent Tears: Giving a Voice to Child Sexual Abuse is a program that officially was launched Thursday at the Greenville County Council chambers.
The announcement was attended by representatives from health care, law enforcement, faith-based groups and the business community.
“First, we will meet with child protection stakeholders from throughout the state to obtain their input for effectively administering the project,” Victor Vieth, executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University in Minnesota, said in a statement.
He said the second part of the process will involve selecting five counties in the state to conduct interviews with child protection professionals to look at the strengths and weaknesses in responding to the cases.
After conducting the interviews, Vieth said the group will work with the Center for Child Advocacy Studies program at the University of South Carolina Upstate to create a survey to gain more information from child protection professionals, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, social workers, and mental and medical health care providers.
Once all of the work is completed, the group will present a summary of the findings and recommendations. The work will be used to improve the state’s ability to respond to child sexual abuse cases.
“They invested considerable money studying the issue,” said U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg, the former 7th Circuit solicitor. “You need to have a firm understanding of the challenges in dealing with child sexual abuse.”
Gowdy said coaches and teachers need to be trained to notice the problem, as well as law enforcement and prosecutors. He said the goal is to have fewer child sexual abuse victims.
“If you can deal with causes, then you can treat the victims and deal with the perpetrators,” Gowdy said. “The idea is to begin looking at how do you begin to break that cycle. Bob is not under any illusion that there will be a quick fix,” he said.
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