Annual conference addresses child abuse prevention
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Reaching out to prevent child abuse in an increasingly diverse society and ways to identify specific types of abuse are the topics of the Annual Conference in Recognition of National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.

More than 400 people in law enforcement and juvenile services from across the Texas Panhandle will attend the conference, scheduled for Tuesday (April 4) at the Amarillo Civic Center. A host of community partners are sponsoring and supporting the conference including Amarillo College, the 47th District Attorney's Office, the Amarillo Police Department, the C.J. and Syble Fowlston Charitable Trust and Tobacco Free Amarillo, and more than 60 other businesses and civic organizations.

Lisa Aronson Fontes, who specializes in mental health, social service and criminal justice and has worked with Somali refugrees and homeless children, is one of the featured speakers. Fontes' talk relates to methods law enforcement and professionals must develop to reach out to increasingly diverse communities and communicate abuse prevention said Eric Wallace, Amarillo College's criminal justice programs director.

International consultant Phylip J. Peltier also is shceduled to speak on suspicious injuries such as burns and bite marks.

Wallace said about 10 percent of registered attendees are law enforcement. Other agencies including CASA, school counselors and social services workers account for the rest of pre-registered attendants.

This year's conference will address ways of identifying cases that need further investigation and ways to educate families about abuse.

"It's just information to help people take back to their agencies and help them do their jobs better and in that process reduce child abuse," Wallace said.


Mike Smith is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. Contact him at, on Twitter at @newsmithm and on Facebook.