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City leaders to help prevent child sex abuse

A local woman wants Bonneville County public officials to understand the warning signs of child sexual abuse and how to prevent it. About two weeks ago, the mayor of Idaho Falls, the Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney and the sheriff signed a prevention pledge.

The pledge is going to teach public officials how to talk to kids and their families who experience child abuse.

City leaders will also take classes to teach them how to prevent child abuse in the county.

In September, a class will be held here at the Bonneville County Courthouse where prosecuting attorney Bruce Pickett works. The classes will be about three hours long.

Jen Austin-Mathewson is Mrs. Bonneville County America. She’s asking city leaders to sign her pledge that consists of 12 promises. They signed it and are now promising to receive training on how to better report abuse and how to prevent it.

“Our detectives, our prosecuting attorneys, these public figures need to know if a child takes back their story of abuse, that’s really common and the abuse actually did occur,” Austin-Mathewson said.

“You have to be really careful in the way that you talk to a child that’s been sexually abused and they will learn all of that,” she said. Pickett said the state has ways of dealing with child abuse.

“We can always improve how we deal with victims and victim’s families,” he said.
Idaho has money set aside to give to victims and their families. Pickett hopes the classes will teach his office more than that.

“I think the goal of the class is to increase the awareness of reporting and to increase the safety plans in place so we prevent abuse not just deal with it after it happens,” Pickett said.

Austin-Mathewson wants the community to sign her pledge. You can sign it on You can also learn how to prevent child abuse, too. Classes are available at HELP, Inc. on Hoopes Avenue in Idaho Falls.

Austin-Mathewson will be going to school districts in the next few weeks. She will be asking them to sign her pledge.

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