The Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment at USD was established in 2017 to develop a sustainable solution to reduce child sexual abuse and maltreatment in South Dakota.


Our Mission

The Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment’s mission is to stop all maltreatment against South Dakota children in order to foster resilient families.

"The time is now to bring child sexual abuse out of the shadows. Combating child sexual abuse requires removing the societal stigma about the topic, recognizing that it exists in our state amongst all populations, and having the courage to support our children through knowledge, response, and prevention."
- Senator Deb Soholt, Chair of the CPCM Advisory Board

What We've Achieved

  • Developed a foundation of sustainability for CPCM, including networking with service agencies state wide.
  • Applied for grant funding to study and implement a single-point data system.
  • In collaboration with Department of Health, developed and distributed pediatric sexual assault evidence collection kits to medical facilities and law enforcement agencies across the state.
  • Surveyed SD teachers and administrators to identify their knowledge of and response to reporting child abuse.
  • Piloted South Dakota’s first regional Multidisciplinary Team (REACH Team) in the Watertown area to serve as a unified response and prosecution team for cases of child sexual abuse and maltreatment in 13 surrounding counties.  
  • In collaboration with The Helpline, created a state-wide resource database for information regarding child sexual abuse.

Click here to read the University of South Dakota's Diversity and Inclusiveness Statement.

Jolene's Task Force

Child sexual abuse is an adult problem. In no other way do we make our children responsible for their own safety. We give them shelter, clothing, food, education, and take care of them when they are sick. Yet, if they are being sexually abused, we leave it up to them – to tell, to endure, and to heal.

In 2014, through SDCL2-6-31, Jolene’s Law Task Force was charged to study the prevalence and impact of child sexual abuse (CSA) in the state. The Task Force met during the 2014, 2015, and 2016 interim legislative sessions. Task force membership represented the executive and legislative branches of South Dakota government, along with a medical doctor specializing in child sexual abuse, a State’s attorney, professionals from Child Advocacy Centers (CACs), counselors, law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tribal community. Additionally, Jolene Loetscher, a victim of child sexual abuse and for whom the Task Force is named, was a member. Senator Deb Soholt, District 14, served as chair and Senator Alan Solano as vice-chair of the Task Force and its efforts.

The task force came to understand that:

  • Child sexual abuse is a serious, significant issue in South Dakota.
  • At least 4,000 children in our state experience sexual abuse every year.
  • Students in South Dakota who have been forced to have sex, been touched sexually when they did not want to be, or forced to do sexual things other than sexual intercourse are two to five more times likely to consider or attempt to commit suicide.
  • This topic is a public health priority for the safety and health of our kids.
  • Child sexual abuse happens in all socio-economic and race groups.
  • South Dakota adults need to lead a culture shift to protect our children.
  • The most powerful lever for change rests with mandatory reporters.
  • A coordinated system of response and early intervention must be developed.
  • A single entity should be responsible to aggregate statewide child sexual abuse data and use that to drive effective interventions and change.

Each year the Task Force issued reports summarizing its work, insight gained, research, and background assumptions behind child sexual abuse in South Dakota.

Based on its 2016 efforts, the Task Force outlined six major goals and 48 supporting objectives that address a comprehensive approach towards ending child sexual abuse in South Dakota. Although the focus of this plan is child sexual abuse, the objectives will increase the state’s capacity to address all forms of child maltreatment. The plan focuses on the child, family, and professionals that surround the child and family. The plan does not, at this time, focus on the offenders. It is anticipated that this will be a required future effort as the offenders’ health and learned behavior patterns are the true root of this issue.

The Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment at the University of South Dakota (USD) is the driving force behind coordination of Jolene’s Law Task Force 10-Year strategic plan, and will work to remove barriers to completing objectives.

10-Year Work Plan


CPCM has six major goals and 48 supporting objectives that address a comprehensive approach toward ending child sexual abuse in South Dakota. The objectives of this plan will increase the state's capacity to address all forms of child maltreatment.


Goal A

Create a single-point data agency with management of an intregrated database system to effectively monitor and ultimatly predict indicators assosciated with child sexual abuse in South Dakota. 

Goal B

Build capacity within the public, private, and Tribal health systems to respond to all children and families impacted by child sexual abuse in South Dakota.


Goal C

Every post-secondary institution of higher education in South Dakota will teach students entering professions where they will be mandatory reporters the skills necessary to perform this task. Every mandatory reporter will receive annual training on detecting abuse and their obligation to report.

Goal D

Child protection workers and law enforcement officers will conduct a competent and comprehensive investigation of every child sexual abuse case that comes to their attention, and when abuse is substantiated, persue appropriate civil and criminal actions.

Goal E

Develop self-healing communities through contracted campaign materials to build a movement that ends child sexual abuse in South Dakota. Launch public campaign by the end of 2018.


Goal F

Create and sustain a network of statewide support and effort to move the goals of Jolene's Law Task Force forward.