They look for signs - small cuts, bruises, anything that may indicate a victim of domestic violence.
The staff of Lucas County Children Services look for the marks every time they visit with a family. And when they find some, they direct that family toward help, Dean Sparks, the agency's executive director, said.
Training for agencies is one of the recommendations that resulted from an extensive study on domestic violence in Lucas County.
Members of the Lucas County Family Council met yesterday to ensure that training turns into plans for action.
"The way we stop domestic violence is to not tolerate it, and to hold offenders accountable for their behavior," Mr. Sparks, the council's chairman, said. "The only way we can do that is to have a very high level of awareness and suspicions."
Learned from the study:
●Once every 28 minutes, a 911 call is received for domestic violence and/or a domestic argument.
●Of the 4,600 incidents of child abuse and neglect investigated by children services, nearly 25 percent involve families where domestic violence is an issue.
●More than 50 percent of all referrals of child abuse and neglect with issues of domestic violence in the home come from within five Zip Codes - 43605, 43607, 43608, 43609, and 43612.
●More than 600 domestic violence cases are referred to the Lucas County Juvenile Court annually.
Because of those statistics, agencies working with families must be tuned in to signs of violence, the study said.
The first recommendation was to provide training for service staff who work with Lucas County families.
Yesterday, Family Council members agreed to create a curriculum to help recognize and react to domestic violence. It's training that needs to be made available to "anybody that provides services in the home," Mr. Sparks said.
The second recommendation was to coordinate data collection on domestic violence numbers. Included should be incidents of domestic violence, client feedback, agency performance, and associated costs.
"The problem we had with the data is that there is no federal or state data. That made it difficult to get our arms around the issue," said Kristen Kania, of Family Council, who co-authored the study.
Other recommendations include promoting collaboration among agencies, providing a community education program, and formulating a judicial response to adolescent domestic violence. "Violence is a learned behavior," said Dan Pompa, Lucas County Juvenile Court administrator and co-author of the study. "They learn it in the home."
Mr. Sparks said it will be up to the members of the Family Council - made up of representatives of various social service agencies - to ensure that they are put in play. "We'll pay attention to it," he said.
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