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West Virginia lawmakers hope to pass sex abuse laws


The Herald-Dispatch

Del. Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia lawmakers at the helm of a task force hoping to combat the sexual abuse of children heard recommendations earlier this week on how the goal will become reachable.

The Joint Committee on Education reviewed and heard presentations Jan. 9 from the State Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children. House Education Committee Chairman Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, and Senate Education Committee Chairman Kenny Mann, R-Monroe, serve as co-chairmen of the task force.

The task force has presented five key recommendations in the fight, including required training for all public school employees to better detect and respond to suspected abuse, to simplify and clarify state mandatory reporting laws and also strengthen non-criminal sanctions and screenings for child-serving professionals.

It also recommends better collaboration and coordination of resources that would help identify strategies for the sustainability of child abuse prevention approaches and education. A strengthening of the school system’s capacity to provide age-appropriate, evidence-informed child sexual abuse prevention education to the children is also recommended.

Jim McKay, director of Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia, said advocates were pleased to be a part of the process.

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