Every 10 seconds, an allegation of child abuse is made in the United States. Once reported, an investigation begins that ideally includes a child forensic interview conducted at a Child Advocacy Center (CAC).
Designed as safe, neutral, and child-friendly environments, the CAC model reduces trauma to alleged child victims and their families by utilizing a multidisciplinary approach that facilitates collaboration among investigative agencies and advocacy support organizations. This collaboration streamlines investigations, potential prosecutions, and the medical and mental health support of child victims.
The good news is according to the National Children’s Alliance, there are enough CACs to provide child forensic interviewing services to four out of every children in the U.S. The bad news is, that still leaves over 13.5 million children without access to CAC services.
In 2015, approximately 800 CACs, all members of the National Children’s Alliance, served 311,688 children who were alleged victims of child sexual or physical abuse, neglect, or who were witnesses to crimes such as domestic violence.
One such CAC is Susie’s Place in central Indiana. Susie’s Place is open 24 hours a day because, as Executive Director Emily Perry says, “When an allegation of abuse is made and a child is potentially in danger, we don’t care if it’s 2:00 in the afternoon or 2:00 in the morning… our primary interest is making sure that child is safe.”
This 7-minute video with Emily and her team offers a candid, behind-the-scene’s look at what goes on during a forensic interview. It shows the vital role Susie’s Place and other CACs play as part of a broader, collaborative multidisciplinary team effort to investigate child abuse cases. Thanks to their combined work, care, and understanding, children can come forward and tell their stories of abuse in a safe and neutral environment.
To learn more about Child Advocacy Centers around the country, visit the National Children’s Alliance website.
About Susie’s Place
Susie’s Place is dedicated to providing a neutral, child-friendly environment to investigate alleged child abuse and neglect in Indiana, while keeping the comfort and safety of the child the first priority. Since opening its doors in 2009, Susie’s Place has conducted well over 5,000 child forensic interviews in collaboration with 70 different law enforcement agencies and 40 county Department of Child Services offices. Additionally, Susie’s Place has coordinated cases with child abuse investigators in 13 other states, the FBI and Homeland Security. Visit Susie’s Place website to learn more, make a donation or get involved.
BeAKidsHero™ is an initiative to educate parents, teachers and other caring adults around the globe about protecting the children in their lives from abuse and neglect. Founded by Child Advocate and Child Forensic Interviewer Ginger Kadlec, www.beakidshero.com spotlights child protection best practices and tips, as well as features a host of resources and information about issues related to child abuse awareness, prevention and intervention ranging from child sexual abuse facts and prevention to cyberbullying, sextortion and Internet safety. Parents are invited to participate in a free three-part video training series about protecting kids of all ages from sexual abuse. To enroll, visit www.sexualabusepreventionsystem.com.
The BeAKidsHero™ column on CW NEWS is released biweekly on Tuesdays.