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Conference aims to reduce disparities in Dane Co. child abuse cases

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 --- 8:30 p.m.

Dane County prosecutors, social workers and authorities are working together to reduce disparities in child abuse cases across different cultures.

The African American community makes up about 15 percent of the population in Dane County, and yet they make up 50 percent of child abuse cases.

At a conference Wednesday hosted by the district attorney's office, those who work with these kinds of cases were asked to look at their own biases in an effort to better educate parents who may be crossing the line between corporal punishment and abuse.

"What we tried to emphasize here today, is that parents who use corporal punishment, are at a greater risk of going too far because as a child gets bigger and grows, they amp up the intensity of what they're doing, they may graduate from an open hand on the backside to a fist to some sort of object."

While corporal punishment is legal in Wisconsin, child advocates say if a parent uses an object, it is considered abuse. They also say there's no evidence that shows hitting a child is more effective than non-physical punishment. In fact, some studies show certain hormone levels are abnormally high in girls who were abused.

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