Child abuse fighter feted with reception

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 128 views 

FAYETTEVILLE — The subject of child abuse and neglect is not normally cocktail-party fodder, but at a gathering Thursday (Feb. 23) at the home of Denise and Dr. Hershey Garner, it was all anyone was talking about.

Leading the conversation was Victor Vieth, the executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC), a state-of-the-art training complex on the campus of Winona State University in Minnesota. Vieth’s been spending time in Northwest Arkansas lately as he helps get the NCPTC’s Southern regional training center off the ground at Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) in Bentonville.

A dynamic personality quieted somewhat Thursday by admitted overuse of his voice, Vieth reiterated the importance of having a local facility that can train police, medical professionals, lawyers, teachers, caregivers and others in how to identify signs of child abuse. Many of these professionals don’t learn to recognize the signs until they’re on the job. Instruction offered at the regional center could replace up to five years of field training, Vieth said.

It’s imperative, Vieth said, to reach young children at the time of their abuse — the average age of victims is age 3 — rather than later, when they’ve become delinquents, criminals or worse. The ultimate goal, he said, is to end child abuse within the next three generations.

On Friday, (Feb 24), Vieth and other key figures in establishing the Bentonville site gathered at NWACC to announce a lead gift and other donations that will help make the center possible.

Guests at the Garners’ reception included NWACC President Becky Paneitz and lawyer and NWACC trustee Hadley Hindmarsh, honorary chairman of the capital campaign charged with raising the necessary funds. Some $3.25 million is needed to renovate a former oncology clinic into the new training center.