A conference today in Altoona was designed to help communities respond better to family violence. Mark Wynn is a retired detective who came from Nashville, Tennessee, to talk about how states and towns differ on how much they help what he calls the “hidden victims” of domestic violence — the kids in a troubled family.He quotes an old saying that “a fish rots from the head” and says if police chiefs, judges, and politicians don’t make it a community issue it won’t be dealt with properly, so they have to take a leadership role. Wynn says everyone must do so, ministers, doctors, and others, because unless we realize it’s a problem and deal with it directly, we’ll just “hand off” another generation of victims and offenders. Wynn says children are often present during incidents of adult domestic violence. They’re considered “hidden victims” because they’re told to hide from authorities or they disappear to avoid the violence…or are simply overlooked. He says there are a couple of issues, safety and justice — and to deal with both, children in a case should be interviewed so that as a police detective he can take their evidence into a courtroom and present it, rather than requiring that child of perhaps 3 or four years old to go into a courtroom. He says putting the burden of the prosecution on that child’s shoulders can be damaging. The title of the conference was “Improving your Community’s Response to Family Violence.” About 200 people attended the conference, sponsored by the Iowa attorney general’s office through a grant from the U.S. department of justice.
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