Speaker to Address Problems of Child Abuse, Neglect

The chief of the State Technical Assistance Team (STAT) that investigates child abuse and neglect fatalities and Internet pornography will speak at William Woods University at 3 p.m. Feb. 26 in the Library Auditorium.

The presentation, which is sponsored by the WWU social work program, will examine the abuse suffered by children and this unique state program’s approach to investigation.

The event is designed to educate professionals, child welfare advocates, concerned citizens and students preparing for professional work with children and families.

The speaker, Gus Kolilis, is chief of STAT, a special unit within the Missouri Department of Social Services. STAT is made up of seasoned law enforcement officers, social workers and other professionals with expertise in child abuse and neglect.

STAT is mandated in Missouri law to aid law enforcement officers, social workers and child welfare professionals across the state in the investigation of child fatalities related to abuse and neglect. STAT has also developed a nationally recognized program of investigating sexual crimes involving children.

The unit specializes in undercover operations, via the Internet, to apprehend adults who lure children for the purposes of committing molestation. In addition, STAT conducts undercover work, through the use of technology, to seize child pornography and arrest those that promote it.

“The road to treating and eliminating child victimization begins with an exploration of how and why children in our society are so vulnerable to such horrific, unthinkable acts,” Jerrie Jacobs-Kenner, director of the social work program at William Woods, said.

“Most child abuse occurs at the hands of those closest to them; however, they can also be vulnerable to predators who exploit children through the very technology we use to enhance our lives,” she added.

In addition to being chief of STAT, Kolilis is a former St. Louis police officer, detective, field trainer, supervisor and academy instructor. He also served with the University of Missouri Police Department in Columbia as a detective, field supervisor and assistant to the chief.

Kolilis is a FBI National Academy graduate and a member of several service organizations, including the International Police Chiefs and Missouri Police Chiefs Associations.

The presentation contains sensitive and graphic material, and is not suitable for participants under the age of 18. For more information, contact Jacobs-Kenner at (573) 592-4271.