What Does a Children’s Advocacy Center Do?

 

As you know, April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  On April 6, I was a keynote speaker at a fundraiser for a Children’s Advocacy Center in Oregon.  

This was the second time I‘d been asked to speak at a fundraiser for a Children’s Advocacy Center, and I was truly honored to help in this way.  They expected 400 people, and I talked about my sexually abusive childhood and the evolution of my healing journey.  

I never appreciated the role of a Children’s Advocacy Center, until I worked as an advocate in Iceland years ago.  That’s when I learned about the important services it provides to children in need and their families.

This is crucial for children, who have been sexually abused.  When someone suspects child sexual abuse and files a report, the child is brought to a Children’s Advocacy Center for child-friendly interviewing by a specialist.  Afterwards, a copy of the child’s recorded interview is given to every professional who needs to hear it.  

This greatly minimizes the stressful impact an investigation has on the child.  Before Children’s Advocacy Centers, the child had to testify over and over again to every person involved in the investigation.  It was a very traumatic experience.

When I was a child, there were no Children’s Advocacy Centers to go to for help.  Now they’re in almost every community.  The last time I checked, there were 822 of these centers across the country.  You can find your local Children’s Advocacy Center at the national website: http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org

A Children’s Advocacy Center is important for you, too.  Here’s the reason:

  • If you suspect child abuse, your first step should be to contact your local Children’s Advocacy Center. 
  • These professionals will help you determine if your suspicion is correct or just normal childhood behavior.
  • If it is abuse, the center will assist you in taking the next step, which will be to call the police or protective services.


The work of your local Children’s Advocacy Center is invaluable.  They not only educate your community about child abuse prevention but also offer services to help children and their families recover from abuse.  

If what I’ve said in this blog post inspires you to join the prevention movement, consider donating or volunteering at your local center.  They need all the help they can get, and they need it now!

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Svava, thanks for sharing your story and the information about Child Advocacy Centers. These are very important organizations, but I wish more of them focused on the spectrum of abuse and neglect, and not just sexual abuse, which, although horrific, accounts for only a fraction of the child maltreatment that occurs in the US. I believe this is the result of siloed funding streams; different government agencies fund different types of victim responses. If we work with our systems to look at the whole child, and the life spectrum around abuse and neglect using ACEs science, I am sure we would see more children and families served. 

In 1996 it was brought to my attention that my 9 year old daughter was sexually abused by her father.  I immediately filed a police report with my local police station and I was then scheduled to meet at a children's center where my children were interviewed and my daughter was examined.  I was treated like an abuser and interrogated by a police officer who had nothing nice to say to me.  It was a horrible time and today I still suffer anxiety over this issue.  My daughter is now 27 years old and has come to terms with her abuse, but my ex-husband was never charged with this crime, as the district attorney at that time told me that there was not enough evidence to bring the case to trial.

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