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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. During this month and throughout the year, the Wisconsin Department of Justice encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Wisconsin a better place for families. We can prevent child abuse and neglect by making sure that all parents and caregivers have the knowledge, resources, tools, and skills they need to care for their children. Research indicates that five important factors are present in healthy families. By promoting these factors we can reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect:
At the Department of Justice we believe that every child should grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. That is why as Attorney General I have worked tirelessly to promote the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The Wisconsin (ICAC) Task Force is a national leader in fighting Internet crimes against children.
There are a number of other ways the Wisconsin Department of Justice fights child abuse and neglect every day.
The Department of Justice through the Office of Crime Victims Services administers the federal Children's Justice Act (CJA.) The CJA works to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse and neglect in Wisconsin. Grant funds are used for training, protocol, and multidisciplinary team development for law enforcement, prosecutors and victim service providers. The grant also cosponsors the Wisconsin Children's Confidentiality Project and funds the development of child advocacy centers.
I also rely on the Attorney General's Task Force on Children in Need which is a multi-disciplinary body of child maltreatment professionals. The Task Force reviews and evaluates investigative and judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect, and makes policy and training recommendations to improve the handling of these cases.
Finally, the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Legal Services, through the Criminal Litigation and Criminal Appeals Units, works to keep children safe through the prosecution and appeals of child abuse and neglect cases. The Criminal Litigation Unit attorneys and staff handle cases throughout the state as special prosecutors at the request of district attorneys where the district attorney needs assistance or is unable to act. The unit also provides advice and assistance to law enforcement and prosecutors on a variety of issues, including specialized areas such as ICAC, child abuse and neglect.The Criminal Appeals Unit represents the state in all felony appeals, including cases involving child abuse and neglect, before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.The unit also works closely with the state's local prosecutors, providing training, support and legal advice.
It is imperative that we all work together to strengthen our families and our communities in order to defeat child abuse and neglect.