HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Professionals from around the world who specialize in child abuse response are in Huntsville this week.
They are attending the 35th International Symposium hosted by the National Children's Advocacy Center.
It highlights how Huntsville continues to lead the way in helping young victims.
The National Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville has revolutionized our nation's response to child sexual abuse.
There are more than 1000 centers all over the country that use their model and Executive Director Chris Newlin says other countries have been replicating it too.
"Foreign countries like Pakistan, Guatemala, Greece are definitely interested and we see this model being developed throughout the world," Newlin said.
The NCAC is hosting their 35th International Symposium on Child Abuse at the Von Braun Center. More than 1600 people are attending from around the world to learn the best practices on how to protect child victims.
Presenters include internationally renowned experts, and professionals from Alabama.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall says NCAC is the country's "crown jewel" when it comes to the expertise and resources the center provides for victims of child abuse and neglect.
He provided an example of a case he handled as a prosecutor of a one year old boy who died from abusive head trauma.
Marshall said he didn't know the science behind his injuries and how he would present it to a jury.
He had the chance to attend the symposium to speak to national experts and other prosecutors from around the country.
"Ultimately, the people that engaged in that crime are now spending the rest of their lives in prison. It's stories like that many attending the symposium will be able to share with others. It's one of the shining spots in Huntsville and Alabama to be able to make sure that we're training professionals across the country," Marshall explained.
He says NCAC's team leads the charge in prosecution techniques and interview protocols.
Statistically, when children that have an opportunity to be engaged with the Children's Advocacy Center, Marshall says the likelihood of a prosecution being successful is greatly increased.
"I think we've seen a global change in the way we approach child abuse generally and this organization is one of the reasons why. We need to make sure that not only are we protecting children at the beginning stages of an investigation, but also that we're providing services afterwards to ensure they're getting the counseling help they need and to prepare them for what's going to go on at trial," said Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.
NCAC continues to further their outreach to other countries to provide training and technical assistance services to help them develop their programs.
"We need to make sure kids get the services to help them heal and recover. Child sex abuse, physical abuse, exposure to violence is not the end of one's life. We have models that can help them recover and to help do our best job to hold those who harm children accountable so they can't hurt anyone else," Newlin said. "Child sexual abuse is down almost 50% over the last 25 years in the United States so we're making progress and this model is a big part of that."
"Hopefully, we'll continue to improve and evolve and the National Children's Advocacy Center is one of the leaders in that area," AG Marshall added.
The symposium wraps up Thursday. Nearly 200 workshops are being held during the four-day conference.
Additionally, this year’s Symposium will spotlight Secondary Traumatic Stress – an issue plaguing many industries including the child welfare industry.