Superheroes of Child Abuse Prevention

Tulsa’s Child Abuse Network, Inc. (CAN), an Oklahoma non-profit, combines all the agencies involved in a child abuse investigation into a multi-disciplinary team in order to reduce trauma for a child who has already experienced trauma. The team comes together at the Children’s Advocacy Center to help children in a calm, safe, child-friendly environment. Each team member focuses on a different aspect of the investigation – child welfare, mental health, law enforcement, medical and legal – to address the complexities of child abuse using coordinated strategies.

Here are some of the Superheroes of CAN: 

 photo credit: Sheeba Atiqi

Dr. Mike Baxter, Child Abuse Pediatrician, OU-TU School of Community Medicine

How long have you been at the CAC?  

I have been at the CAC since 2008 (two years of child abuse pediatric fellowship) and faculty since 2010.

What is your favorite thing about your job? 

Honestly, it is working with children. It would be the same answer no matter what field of pediatrics I choose to do.

Without giving away a child’s identity, do you have a story that particularly sticks in your mind? 

A 21-month-old boy was here when I was a medical student rotating with the child abuse pediatrician at that time. He had diagnostic signs of physical abuse. After the exam I was holding him and walking around the Center. He had blond hair and green eyes and displayed an attachment to me. I knew that developmentally, bonding with a stranger was not expected. However, his need for positive interaction was emotionally overwhelming. He was placed into a foster family that eventually adopted him. The importance to me is this interaction began my own desire to become not only a child abuse pediatrician but a parent as well.

Most people would consider this an emotionally difficult job. How do you get through each day and how do you decompress from the hard cases that you see?

My relationship with my colleagues with OU as well as the other team members at the CAC is helpful. Outside of work: Listening to my daughter play violin, cuddling with my wife watching The Daily Show, playing soccer each week, running and exercising.

What do you want people to know about your agency (TPD, DA’s office, OU, DHS)?

According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 678,932 children in the United States were victims of child abuse and neglect in 2013. In addition, there were 15,252 confirmed cases of child abuse in Oklahoma just last year. If a child is lucky enough to survive and be identified as a victim of child abuse, complex and innumerable medical conditions likely exist.

Why do you do what you do?

There is a need for children, families, and the community to have experts in the field of child abuse pediatrics.


 photo credit: Sheeba Atiqi

Shelia Minor-Johnson, Child Advocate/Team Coordinator

What is your job at the Children's Advocacy Center, and how long have you been doing it? 

Part of my job is to welcome children and families to the CAC. I distribute packets of information to the parents and explain the process and answer questions. I also identify any family or child that may need additional assistance. I monitor the safety and well-being of the children in the waiting area and conduct exit interviews (and provide follow-up when appropriate). I coordinate all details and collect information needed for the weekly Team Reviews, present case summaries and record information and assist the DA in facilitation of those meetings. I have been here for two years.

What is your favorite thing about your job? 

Interacting with the children while they are here and being able to make their visit here less traumatic. I along with the volunteer coordinator and our wonderful volunteers may engage the children in a game of checkers or completing a puzzle.  

Without giving away a child’s identity, do you have a story that particularly sticks in your mind? 

There are several, but one day there was a set of twin boys along with several other children in the CAC who were playing a game of checkers with me. When the Forensic Interviewer came to ask one of the twin boys to go back for his interview, the brother tried to play it off that he had already gone and that his brother was supposed to go back. The Forensic Interviewer was able to figure it out and knew that she had already talked to the brother. I saw this as a good sign because the young boy was enjoying his time with me that it took his mind off of whatever trauma he was here for. 

Most people would consider this an emotionally difficult job. How do you get through each day and how do you decompress from the hard cases that you see? 

I am able to get through the day knowing that a child’s path to healing will start once they are able to disclose whatever it is they have had to deal with. I decompress from the really hard cases because as a team we discuss it and are allowed to process. It’s always helpful that we laugh with each other and our supervisor encourages us to have self-care, and if we really need to talk, there is a professional that comes periodically to speak with all staff.

What do you want people to know about Child Abuse Network? 

That our multidisciplinary team is a staff of highly trained professionals that are dedicated to improving the lives of children affected by trauma. I am very proud to be a part of a team that works to improve and protect the lives of children in our community. 

Why do you do what you do?  

I truly believe that our greatest asset as a community is how well we take care of our children. I live by the mantra that 100 years from now it will not matter the size of my house, car or bank account, but that the world is a better place because I made the difference in the life of a child. 


 photo credit: Sheeba Atiqi

Kristi Simpson, Child Welfare Specialist III

What is your job at the Children’s Advocacy Center and how long have you been doing it? 

I have worked for OKDHS for four years, and I have been part of this specialized unit for almost two years. My job is to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect and to ensure child safety. I am one of six investigators housed at the CAC. Our unit operates with a specialized protocol – we typically handle the shocking and heinous abuse/neglect allegations. Keeping children safe is a community effort so we work closely with law enforcement, medical professionals, Child Abuse Network staff, schools, attorneys, and families to obtain the best possible outcomes for our children.  

What is your favorite thing about your job? 

The best part of my job is being part of a system dedicated to helping children and families. Not only do I get to work hands-on with children and families, but I also get to work with an amazing team of people who are committed to the same goal. 

Without giving away a child’s identity, do you have a story that particularly sticks in your mind? 

I remember the first child I placed in custody; she was a little girl with complex medical issues and her parents weren’t getting her the care she needed. I had been carrying my own caseload less than two weeks and I was only just beginning to understand the complex nature of my job. I will never forget grappling for the first time with the reality that while removal was absolutely the best choice for this child, my involvement with the family would also cause trauma. I realized that in order to make things better, I had to do the difficult work of causing tears and heartache along the way. I was fortunate to stay connected with the family while they worked through the court process. Those parents worked hard to complete their treatment plans, to learn about their daughter’s diagnoses and how to treat her, and to establish a safe home for her. It took them nearly two years, but they did it! That little girl is now home with her family and she is doing great. She is healthy and happy; their family is stronger. Happy endings like this carry me through the tough days on the job.

Most people would consider this an emotionally difficult job. How do you get through each day and how do you decompress from the hard cases that you see? 

Without question, I couldn’t survive in this profession without the support of my team- detectives, doctors, ADA’s, interviewers, and fellow OKDHS workers. We walk side by side through even the most horrific cases. When one of us hurts, we all hurt. We hold each other up and we stay connected. We spend so much time together that we’re really more like family than co-workers. I’m so thankful for all of them. Of course, I have to say that the patience, support, and understanding I receive from my own family keeps me going. I have a child of my own at home and there are many nights I have to say goodnight by phone because I’m still out in the field working. She never gets angry about my work; she tells me that I’m her hero because I’m helping save children. Being praised by co-workers is amazing, but being a hero in the eyes of my child is priceless.


 photo credit: Sheeba Atiqi

Sarah McAmis, Director of Crimes Against Children for the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office

What is your job at the Children’s Advocacy Center and how long have you been doing it?

I supervise a team of Assistant District Attorneys who specialize in the prosecution of Child Abuse Cases. I am responsible for reviewing the Child Abuse police and DHS reports for every agency within our jurisdiction. I then determine whether charges should be filed and, if so, what charges. I believe that it is just as important to decline charges when a criminal case is not warranted or cannot be proven as it is to proceed with a case when the facts demand it. Our criminal cases include Child Abuse Homicides, physical child abuse, sexual child abuse, child pornography, and child neglect. I prosecute all of the Child Abuse Homicides, Shaken Baby Syndrome cases, and the complex and/or higher profile cases from the filing of the Information through jury trial. The remainder of the cases are divided among the other Child Abuse ADAs to handle through jury trial.  
I have been a Child Abuse Prosecutor for over 20 years.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

Without any question, my favorite thing about my job is standing up for an innocent child victim and giving that child a voice in the quest for justice. There is no greater feeling than knowing that the person who so horrifically hurt a child will be held accountable. I have no doubt that the Child Abuse murder victims are special angels who are watching over the entire process. I likewise have no doubt that the living victims who are able to speak out in court are empowered by the fact that people listen to them, care, and are willing to fight for them.

Without giving away a child’s identity, do you have a story that particularly sticks in your mind?

There are so many stories and so many victims, each of them compelling and tragic. I will never forget J.B. J.B. was only 3-years old when he was violently murdered by his mother’s live-in boyfriend. J.B. had been born prematurely and fought against incredible odds to survive. He not only survived, but at 3-years old, he was thriving and absolutely precious. After his mom met the boyfriend on-line and the boyfriend began to babysit J.B., there had been occasions when J.B. had been mysteriously injured while in the boyfriend’s care. The boyfriend always had an explanation and the mother and even the non-pediatrician doctors believed the explanations. J.B.’s mom was at work the night that the boyfriend murdered her son. The boyfriend gave ridiculous explanations for the horrific injuries from that night and it became clear that he had let J.B. suffer and had failed to seek medical care when the situation became dire. After the boyfriend was arrested and during the investigation, it was discovered that the boyfriend had previously abused the 6-month-old daughter of a previous live-in girlfriend in nearly an identical manner. Thankfully, that baby survived her injuries. However, the boyfriend was not prosecuted. Had he been, then he would not have been able to murder J.B. The fact that J.B. had fought so hard for life when he was born, only to have his life tragically taken from him when he was only 3, made the case particularly heart wrenching. The fact that doctors had initially missed J.B.’s abusive injuries and the fact that the boyfriend had previously abused another baby and had not been held accountable made the case sickening. In the end, the boyfriend went to prison for life for murdering J.B. I will never forget J.B.’s sweet smile from the photos he had made right before his life was taken. And I know that J.B. is one of the angels watching over all that we do.

Most people would consider this an emotionally difficult job. How do you get through each day and how do you decompress from the hard cases that you see?

There really is no way to leave these cases “at the office” and they are constantly on my mind. There is enormous pressure because if you fail, you feel like you have failed the child. Our team works late nights and almost every weekend and holiday. Every time we are able to get justice for a child, that victory gives us the emotional ability to fight for the next child. No one can truly understand unless he/she is in the field. We are a close-knit team of ADAs and we encourage, support and lean on each other.  

What do you want people to know about your agency?

I want people to know how proud I am to work with the dedicated, compassionate and talented people at the Tulsa County DA’s office. Our team works long hours for little pay and little recognition. We face a constant barrage of attacks from defendants. But we keep coming back with our heads held high because we know that the innocent children are worth every bit of the effort.

Why do you do what you do?

I am a Child Abuse Prosecutor because there are people who do unimaginable things to children. There is an abundance of medical research that demonstrates the long-term physical and emotional consequences that children suffer – sometimes for the rest of their lives – as the result of childhood trauma. If I can hold an abuser accountable and prevent that abuser from impacting the life of yet another child, I will fight all day long to make that happen. To me, there is no greater reward than “Justice.”


 photo credit: Sheeba Atiqi

David Glanz, LCSW,  –  Child Specialist/Forensic Interviewer

How long have you been working in your current position? 

I have worked at CAN for 5½ years, doing over 2,700 interviews.

What is your favorite thing about your job? 

I get to meet and talk to children and young adults every day about the fun things in their life and things not so fun (abuse). I am able to use education, experiences, and evidence-based skills to elicit from children narrative information that can be difficult to recall or talk about due to trauma.  

Without giving away a child’s identity, do you have a story that particularly sticks in your mind? 

I recall one 8-year-old girl who shared a particularly painful and damaging experience. After we talked about the abuse and returned to a neutral topic, I asked her if she was ready to return to her guardian. She looked up at me with big eyes and a heartfelt smile and said “Is it ok if we stay in here and talk a little more, I like talking to you.” I said “OK” and we spent some more time talking and drew some flowers.  

Most people would consider this an emotionally difficult job. How do you get through each day and how do you decompress from the hard cases that you see? 

Knowing that I help children in tough situations have hope. I try to keep myself healthy, stay rested, have a good sense of humor and spend time with friends and family. And it is OK to cry when your heart is hurting. 

What do you want people to know about Child Abuse Network? 

We are a neutral party and we place the child first.

Why do you do what you do? 

The children. To help children become more empowered. To help the partner agencies and people to correct the conditions that caused a child to make an outcry. To make sure I do my job correctly so innocent people do not go to jail. 


Detective Aubrie Thompson, Child Crisis Detective

What is your job at the Children’s Advocacy Center and how long have you been doing it? 

I am a Child Crisis Detective for the Tulsa Police Department. I have been a police officer for 11 years and 4 years in child crisis. 

What is your favorite thing about your job? 

I truly feel blessed to be a part of a team that allows me to work together to get justice for children who oftentimes have no voice of their own. 

Without giving away a child’s identity, do you have a story that particularly sticks in your mind? 

Recently I was the lead detective for two homicides that happened within a week of each other. These cases were two of the most heinous and cruel cases of my career thus far. It is hard to put into words how hard these cases can be to solve, but I’m thankful that I was able to make arrests in both cases and will work tirelessly to get justice for these sweet babies. 

Most people would consider this an emotionally difficult job. How do you get through each day and how do you decompress from the hard cases that you see? 

This job is draining but I feel truly honored that I have been called to stand in the gap between evil and angels. I always tell my children when I’m called in late and away from them that it is my turn to help. It isn’t about money or obligation, it is about teaching my children that God provides for us so that I can take my turn to help others. I couldn’t do this job without the help and encouragement of my peers, family and friends. 

What do you want people to know about your agency? 

I want people to know that I feel that I work for the best police department in the nation and the brother and sister officers that I have the honor to work alongside. We pride ourselves in serving all of the great citizens of Tulsa to the best of our ability. 

Why do you do what you do? 

I do what I do because I truly feel led by God to do this job. I feel children are true innocent victims that deserve the most care because they are all of our future. I am honored to do so.


 photo credit: leslie hoyt

Join the 2016 CAN Superhero Challenge! 

CAN Superhero Challenge | 2018
Sunday, April 8, 2018 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM (CDT) 
Registration Deadlines:
Register by March 8 to guarantee receipt of an event T-shirt!
Online registration will close March 31, unless they sell out prior to that date. 


Course Descriptions:  

  • Half-mile Course (Recommended: 7 and under)
    • Approximately a 1/2 mile run and obstacle challenge that includes jumping, climbing, crawling and trail running.
    • Heats will begin at 1:00 p.m. and run about every 15 minutes. Please register for the time you would like to run. An accompanying adult may also register to compete with their kids.
  • One-mile Course (Recommended: 8 & up)
    • Approximately a 1 mile trail run and obstacle challenge that includes jumping, climbing, crawling, pulling, and throwing. 
    • Races will begin at approximately 1 p.m. and run every 15 minutes. Please register for the time you would like to run.  

Parking: 

Event parking will be at Central High School, 3101 W Edison St., Tulsa, OK 

Shuttles will run between Central High School and POSTOAK approximately every 15 minutes from 12:30-4:00pm. Arrive at Central High School at least 45 minutes prior to your heat time.

Individual accommodations for the shuttle can be made for those requiring special assistance. Please contact events@childabusenetwork.org to secure arrangements.


School Challenge:

CAN is awarding $500 to the school with the most participation in either challenge. After event day, CAN will notify the winning school. To acknowledge your school for the contest, please enter your school on the registration form. (Students and adults are eligible to participate for a school.)


Challenge Day Schedule:

  • 12:30 pm: Shuttles services starts between Central High School and POSTOAK
  • 1:00 pm: Fun Zone Opens 
  • 1:00 – 3:30 pm: Sidekick Challenge Heats 
  • 1:10 & 2:30 pm: Superhero Challenge Heats 
  • 4:00 pm: Fun Zone Closes & last shuttle departs  to Central High School
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