Advocates say more prevention programs needed to reduce child sex abuse

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(Host) Advocates say more money will be needed for prevention programs if Vermont is to reduce the rate of child sex abuse.

They argue that merely enacting tougher laws will not solve the growing problem.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Ken Wooden of Shelburne is the head of a nationally acclaimed organization known as Child Lures Prevention.

In the nearly two months since the death of Brooke Bennett, he’s watched politicians debate tougher sentences for sex offenders.

Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Wooden said more money needs to be appropriated for prevention programs so that law enforcement officials actually have fewer cases to investigate.

He doesn’t believe that stiffer penalties are the answer to reducing the incidence of child sexual abuse in Vermont.

(Wooden) "All we’re doing is increasing the industry of arrest, prosecution, incarceration and it just goes on and on and on we lock up more than anybody in the world our incarceration rate is so high I think it’s worth investing a few bucks for prevention and get the word out there…because there must be offenders that are marginal they have a profession they have a family imagine if we can keep them from crossing that line."

Wooden says states that have made a financial commitment to prevention programs are seeing positive results:

(Wooden) "Why don’t we do prevention what is wrong with prevention if we do it in health we’re going to save money for health costs if we do it for child safety we will save lives of children but more and equally important we will save them from going through the horror of being abused and telling no one."

Wooden says the key to his program is that it teaches children the common lures that many sex offenders use in approaching a child.

The child is then encouraged to tell a responsible adult about this inappropriate behavior.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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