Presentation to address child abuse laws

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BELOIT - Navigating Wisconsin's laws regarding child abuse and family disputes can be extremely complex, and next week members of the Rock County legal community will come together to help address resident concerns.

In recognition of April being Child Abuse Awareness Month, The Tre Foundation, Beloit Domestic Violence Survivor Center and the Sexual Assault Recovery program will host a legal panel discussion and presentation from 6 - 8 p.m. on Monday at the Beloit Public Library.

Tre Foundation co-founder, attorney Ami Orava, said the summit will cover how parents and families can obtain abuse injunction, documenting and reporting suspected abuse and how to communicate with Child Protective Services and Rock County Circuit Court.

"There are a lot of people who don't seek legal assistance because they can't afford it or they don't have anyone to explain the system to them, and it can be intimidating," Orava said. "There's nothing worse than seeing people come into your office who are damaged dealing with years of abuse and they are in that position because no one knew how to get them out of that."

Speakers will include Rock County Family Court Commissioner Tom Kolpien and attorneys Kelly Freeman and Jennifer Nash, who serve as two of the county's guardian ad litem representatives. As guardian ad litem representatives, Freeman and Nash are attorneys appointed by the court to represent the best interests of children in abuse and family-related cases.

Beloit Domestic Violence Survivor Center Empowerment Services Director Kelsey Hood-Christenson said abuse against children and children who witness instances of domestic violence often have severe challenges to normal development.

She said children in families assisted by the organization often suffer from anti-social or aggressive behavior.

Hood-Christenson said events of this nature "benefit everyone." The survivor center will host a Sexual Assault Awareness Month "Take Back The Night" event at 6 p.m. on April 17 in Horace White Park.

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