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The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has launched a nationwide campaign to urge state legislators to consider substantial revisions in laws dealing with child abuse, molestation, kidnapping, and exploitation.

Last week, the center distributed to lawmakers copies of a report that presents 100 examples of state laws believed to be the most effective in dealing with crimes against children.

"Our efforts to prevent crimes against children and to deal effectively with these difficult cases when they do occur have not been adequate to assure the safety and protection of our children," said Jay Howell, executive director of the center, at a press conference last week. The center, which opened last year, is funded by the U.S. Justice Department.

Among the 100 measures included in the center's report, "Selected State Legislation: A Guide for Effective State Laws to Protect Children," are: extending to 15 years statutes of limitation for child abuse, allowing videotaped testimony from children in court, eliminating corroboration rules on children's testimony, and accepting out-of-court testimony from children.

The center also recommends broadening laws requiring those who work with children to report suspected cases of child abuse and laws on the transfer of information on missing children to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center.

The National Council of State Legislatures reports that state lawmakers enacted more than 600 measures affecting children and6youths in 1984, a record number that encompassed the issues of child support, abuse and neglect, and child welfare.

"This survey reflects the breadth of these strategies, and it indicates the interrelated nature of problems and their solutions," said Delaware Representative Jane Maroney, who chairs the ncsl Advisory Committee on Children and Youth. "I don't think you can separate out the roles that quality child-care services, for example, play in the prevention of child abuse and in the social and educational development of children."

The survey, "1984 State Legislative Summary: Children and Youth Issues," notes the passage of such measures as required background and fingerprint checks for those who work with children and witness-protection procedures in child sexual-abuse cases.

California, with 62 bills passed, and Maryland, with 40, were cited as leaders in child-welfare legislation.

For a copy of the report, send $15 to: Cris Tracy, ncsl, 1125 17th St., Suite 1500, Denver, Colo. 80202.

Vol. 04, Issue 18

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