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Stopping Child Abuse in Real Time

Erin MerrynSeptember 14, 2017
Policies that Help Kids
A man in my home state of Illinois will spend the next 40 years behind bars as the consequence of sexually abusing his girlfriend’s daughter. The abuse started when she was just three. Sadly, this sort of tragic story is unremarkable in America. But what is remarkable is how the abuse stopped at age seven.The girl broke her silence immediately to teachers after a class presentation on personal body safety. This presentation was required under E...Continue

Extending Jenna's Law to Trafficking Victims

Jenna QuinnJuly 7, 2017
Policy + Advocacy
The first time I walked into a Children’s Advocacy Center, I was a teenager dealing with the aftermath of years of sexual abuse. The CAC helped my family and I understand what happened to me and gave us hope to get through the process of both my healing and the prosecution of my perpetrator and all that happens in between.Naturally, I thought that was where my journey with the CAC would end. But 3 years later, I found myself returning as an int...Continue

The Lifelong Sting of Abuse

Beth BrandesApril 13, 2017
Personal Narratives
NOTE: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence against children.I was 23 years old, in my first job as an assistant social worker in the Atlanta schools, when I was called to the principal’s office of a quiet suburban elementary school. The principal met me with hushed tones outside his office door and said, “I need you to look at Timmy; he is seven, in my office. His teacher thinks something has happened to him.” Forty years la...Continue

Sustaining an Evidence-Based Practice

Carole SwiecickiJune 27, 2017
Insights
Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) have come a long way in the last 30 years.  We have added services and interventions based on solid research—evidence-based practices (EBPs)—all the while maintaining a passion for ensuring that these practices put children on a better path than before they came through our doors. Because the research has come so far, there are now many EBPs to choose from that are tailored to meet specific needs of c...Continue

What Others' Trauma Leaves Behind

Kim DayJune 22, 2017
Research Into Practice
The American Counseling Association’s Traumatology Interest Network (2014) defines vicarious trauma as “the emotional residue from hearing other people’s trauma stories and becoming witness to the pain, fear, and terror the trauma survivor endured” (Network, 2014).  Being witness to another’s pain can cause us to see the world differently.  Individuals working with, and hearing the stories of people who have experienced trauma...Continue

When Does Abuse End and Assault Begin?

Karen FarstMarch 6, 2017
Insights
While child sexual abuse can take many forms, it is typical for the child (and family) to know the offender. The offender uses this relationship to “groom” the child so that abuse can involve more invasive physical contact over time. This grooming process is not only part of the reason that there is often not physical evidence of the abuse once it is disclosed, but is also part of the dynamic that causes more than half of sexual abuse victims...Continue

Reaching Children Through Their Parents

Abi GewirtzJune 14, 2017
Research Into Practice
It’s no great surprise that much of our work in advocating for the well-being of children focuses on, well, the children—how to interact with them, how to help them manage stress and trauma, how to recognize symptoms and identify treatments.However, a large body of evidence shows that intervening with parents to strengthen parenting can have enormously positive effects for the entire family, and that those beneficial effects only grow over ti...Continue

Finding Our Voice

Emily Chittenden-LairdFebruary 9, 2017
Insights
I’m a millennial. It’s a characterization I balk against for all its negative connotations, but thanks to Mom, Dad, and 1983, I am one. And for all the challenging characteristics of millennials, there’s one I find particularly true of us on the older end of the spectrum—an ingrained belief that the bright-eyed, emerging from college versions of ourselves espoused: we were supposed to do our part in healing the world.I was lucky enough to...Continue

Why I Give

Henry ShiembobDecember 13, 2016
Insights
Some might say I don’t fit the profile. I don’t work at a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), or even in child welfare. I’m not a researcher connecting the dots between child abuse and a host of lifelong problems. I’m not a police officer or a prosecutor. I’m not a survivor of abuse. I’m not a therapist who helps survivors get their lives back.In other words, some might ask why I support the CAC movement when I’m not directly affect...Continue

Measuring Success in Addressing Child Abuse

Kristie McKenneyFebruary 24, 2017
How-Tos for Leaders
I’ll never forget the way people used to look at me when I would tell them that we had a successful year at our Children’s Advocacy Center because there was a 25-percent increase in the child sexual abuse cases we saw.  All wide-eyed and somewhat exasperated, their response would sound something like, “More children being abused is considered success?”  Well, not exactly. We were successful because we reached more children. The...Continue