Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Child Abuse Reports Spur Lancaster to Form Panel
In the wake of reports showing the Antelope Valley to be a county leader in child abuse crimes, the Lancaster City Council has voted to establish a panel to find out if the area’s reputation as a child abuse center is indeed justified.
“Our valley seems to bear the mark or has the distinction of having the highest child abuse statistics,” Mayor Frank Roberts said at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. “But it’s hard to determine whether it’s a statistical problem or an actual problem.”
Roberts said he wants the panel to determine whether the Antelope Valley’s child abuse figures truly exceed those for comparable areas or merely have received more attention in news reports. In addition, the panel will examine ways the city might assist public agencies in curtailing child abuse.
The mayor said his goals in creating the panel are to improve the quality of life in Lancaster and correct misperceptions about the city.
Although the project received unanimous approval, some council members said they were worried that the panel’s purpose was too vague.
“I’m concerned that we not get carried away with whether we are justly labeled or not,” Councilwoman Deborah Shelton said.
Councilman George Runner added: “The bottom line for me is, what can municipal government do (to fight child abuse)?”
Roberts named R. Rex Parris, a personal injury attorney who just stepped down from the Lancaster Planning Commission, to head the panel, which will report its findings within eight months. The council allocated no money to the project, saying its work will be done by volunteers.