Identifying Abuse and Protecting Children
Our Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is a child-friendly center in which a team of caring professionals evaluate children who may have been abused.
CAC’s team includes a family advocate and forensic interviewer, and may also enlist expertise from local law enforcement, Department of Child and Families (DCF), and a nurse or nurse practitioner.
The CAC is a private, safe, and comfortable place for children and their family members, and a CAC family advocate will help assist with paperwork, and explain the forensic interview and follow-up processes.
What do I tell my child about the interview?
Inform your child that he/she will be visiting the CAC to talk about what happened. You might say, “You and I are going to a special place where kids can go to talk. The person you’ll be visiting talks with lots of kids about lots of things. It is ok for you to talk to them.”
Explain that you will accompany them to the CAC, but that they will be talking alone to a person who talks to children all the time.
Who will my child talk to during the interview?
Your child will talk to a child forensic interviewer. The interviewer has special training and experience in talking with children about alleged abuse. The interviewer’s goal is to make the child as comfortable as possible while gathering the necessary information for an investigation. The interviewer moves at a pace that is comfortable for a child and never forces a child to talk.
Can I watch the interview?
No. Only people who are directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. This reduces stress for the child and provides a neutral setting for the child and the investigation.
Before and after the interview, you will have an opportunity to relay any questions or concerns with the investigative team. After the interview, the team will tell you in general terms what they learned from the interview.
What if my child needs a physical exam?
The investigative team will decide if your child needs an exam. If it is determined that an exam is necessary, there will be no charge to the family.
You might tell the child, “We are going to see a nurse who takes care of kids. The nurse needs to make sure that your body is okay.” When the exam is over, the nurse will be able to tell you in general terms what she learned.
What should I say to my child after the visit at CAC?
Listen to your child, if he or she wants to talk about the interview or exam. Do not question your child or ask leading questions. Don’t be concerned if your child does not want to talk about the visit. Many children are “tired” of talking about it.
Thank your child for talking and acknowledge his or her courage. Assure your child of your love and support, and reassure your child that he or she will be okay.
Ongoing Counseling Options
Children and teens may struggle with confusion, worries, and other intense emotions related to the abuse. Counseling can help children and teens to process these thoughts and feelings and to develop a healthy and empowering way to understand and cope with the memory of the abuse.
The CAC may help you determine your child’s counseling needs and connect you with counseling at Horizons or another appropriate agency.