LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Welcome and thank you for visiting the Children’s House/Children’s Advocacy Center’s improved website. As we talked about the look and content of our website, one theme kept coming up to the surface—the power of our collective voices. Child Advocacy Centers encourage professionals to work together to have a collaborative investigation, to reduce the number of interviews with individual children thereby reducing the potential re-traumatization to the child and, ultimately, to voice the needs of children who have been sexually and physically abused. Every child deserves the compassionate services of a child advocacy center, and together we can make Bradford and Sullivan County a safe, happy place for our children. However, it isn’t just up to the professionals to be that voice for the child.
Preventing Child Abuse in the Community’s responsibility
As large organization hit the national spot light for so many sexual abuse incidents hidden within their organizations – Penn State, the military, the Catholic Church – the outraged at the lack of action taken on the part of those who suspected abuse grew; however those working in this field know that this is not an isolated situation and that it is happening everyday in our very own communities. Recent studies show that when faced with a situation of maltreatment, less than 50% of those mandated to report actually do so. Only one in ten children who have been sexually abused will tell someone; therefore it takes the courage of one adult who suspects abuse to take that step for them. Adults teach children to look both ways before crossing the street, adults take on the responsibility of locking up toxic cleaners, adults teach children how to wear seatbelts. Yet so often, adults don’t take the responsibility to teach children about body safety. Adults leave it up to children to know how to tell adults “no.”
Steps You Can Take
- Start by learning the signs and the myths of child abuse.
- Contact your local children’s advocacy center and request a prevention program for your church, your community group, or your school to teach parents how to keep their children safe. Remember, it is the adult’s responsibility to keep children sa Although it is important to teach children prevention tips and when to tell an adult if something uncomfortable has happened to them, adults must take on the responsibility to keep children out of harm’s way.
- Talk to your church, school, or other community programs on the policies they have in place – or need to put in place – to establish a safe environment for children such as eliminating opportunities for one child/one adult situations, conducting background checks on volunteers and employees, and establishing setting up a prevention education program for volunteers and children.
- Volunteer at the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi or at your local child advocacy center.
Child abuse is a community issue. Although nobody enjoys talking about child abuse, it is a very real problem in Bradford and Sullivan County and across the Commonwealth that we must have honest and open conversations about. Last year, the CHCAC seen its’ number for requested services rise by 50%. As you tour our new website, you will see that many of our community partners are also standing up to be a voice for child victims by supporting the CHCAC and helping to get out the message. Collectively, we can be the voice that ends child abuse. Organizations like WOC Energy Service, Chesapeake Energy, and Weir donated to the center or have sponsored events last year to raise funds and bring awareness to this important issue. You can be a part of the solution, too.
I am fortunate that my job allows me to be able to work with this amazing group of professionals in Bradford and Sullivan County and across the state the Commonwealth that are supporting child victims and helping to end child abuse in this country. Although we have a long way to go, Child Advocacy Centers work every day to assist child victims and provide tools to children and parents in our communities on ways to prevent abuse. I encourage you to explore our new website to learn more about children’s advocacy centers, ways to prevent child abuse, and how you can help. There are so many ways that you can make a difference. I challenge you to add your voice to the many voices speaking up for our children across Bradford Co., Sullivan Co. and the Commonwealth. Together, we can be the One Loud Voice that ends child abuse.