Agencies join forces to stop child abuse at annual Child Abuse Protocol signing

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Several agencies are teaming together to stop those who make children victims of abuse. In Columbus, Judge Gil McBride held a discussion about the annual child abuse program.

Multiple agencies including the District Attorney’s Office and the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office were present Thursday. Representatives say, it’s events like Thursday that help get justice in child abuse cases.

Dozens of city, county and regional leaders gathered in the Columbus Government Center Thursday afternoon. They all re-signed the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Child Abuse Protocol. It’s something officials do-every year. Julia Slater, the District Attorney for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit was among those present. She explains what the signing of the protocol means.

“Being able to collaborate with the school district and with health professionals and mental health professionals and the sexual assault center, all of those groups coming together to collaborate on the investigation and prosecution of the case makes it less stressful for the child and also more successful for our cases,” says Julia Slater.

Slater says having the different agencies come together when working a case, helps prevent the child from re-living their traumatic experiences.

“The child can have a single interview, can have a single medical examination and they are giving each other information,” says Slater.

Samantha DeFranks is the Director of the Children’s Tree House Child Advocacy Center. That Columbus organization works to give children a safe place to talk about their experiences with abuse. During her presentation, DeFranks talked about one particular case that happened in April 2015.

“The brother walked in on his sister being violently raped,” says Samantha DeFranks.

She says the brother was 11 and the sister was nine at the time. DeFranks says, the man who raped the little girl was the kid’s caregiver. She says, he was given a life sentence, plus 50 years.

“We are finding the truth so that we are finding true perpetrators of crimes and being able to hold them responsible,” says Slater.

According to the Georgia Department of Children and Families, there were more than 2,000 child protective service reports in 2015. District Attorney Slater says, it’s efforts like following the child abuse protocol that help rectify such situations.

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