Fighting for our Children

2018-04-11T22:27:53+00:00March 10th, 2017|Categories: Child Abuse|

Whether you realize it or not, child sexual abuse affects all of us. 

The Economic Impact:

The impact of child sexual abuse is devastating for survivors, but also affects those close to them, as well as the surrounding community. It is the root cause of many social and health issues and touches all of us in one way or another. According to the National Children’s Advocacy Center, the health and social impacts of child sexual abuse on a survivor last a lifetime and affect us all socially and financially. The average lifetime cost per victim of child abuse is $210,012*, costing the U.S. billions annually. These costs are primarily paid for by the public sector, you, the tax payer.

The economic total lifetime burden from nonfatal and fatal child maltreatment in 2008 cost an unimaginable $124,000,000,000.00.

The costs include:

  • Childhood Healthcare Costs-$32,648.00
  • Adult Medical Costs-$10,530.00
  • Criminal Justice Costs-$6,747.00
  • Child Welfare Costs-$7,728.00
  • Special Education Costs-$7,999.00
  • Productivity Losses-$144,360.00

The Social Impact:

There are many social costs as a result of child sexual abuse including:

The cost include:

  • Delinquency and crime, often stemming from substance abuse, are more prevalent in adolescents with a history of child sexual abuse. Adults survivors are also more likely to become involved in crime, both as a perpetrator and as a victim.
  • Academic problems
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Sexual behavior and over-sexualized behavior problems

The Health Impact:

There are many health-related costs to survivors of sexual abuse. Generally, adult victims have higher rates of healthcare utilization and report significantly more health complaints when compared to adults without a history of child sexual abuse. Some health related issues include:

  • Emotional and mental health problems are often the first consequence and sign of child sexual abuse.
  • Substance abuse problems are common, often beginning in childhood or adolescence and lasting into adulthood.
  • Obesity and eating disorders are more common in women who have a history of child sexual abuse. The resulting health issues as a result of obesity includes diabetes and heart disease.

Fang, X., Brown, D., Florence, C., Mercy, J. (2012) The economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States and implications for prevent.  Child Abuse & Neglect, 36:2,156-165

Using the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) Model

What Is a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)?

To understand what a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is, you must understand what children face without one. Without a CAC, the child may end up having to tell the worst story of his or her life over and over again, to doctors, cops, lawyers, therapists, investigators, judges, and others. They may have to talk about that traumatic experience in a police station where they think they might be in trouble, or may be asked the wrong questions by a well-meaning teacher or other adult that could hurt the case against the abuser.

When police or child protective services believe a child is being abused, the child is brought to the CAC—a safe, child-focused environment—by a caregiver or other “safe” adult. At the CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not re-traumatize the child. Then, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions together about how to help the child based on the interview. CACs offer therapy and medical exams, plus courtroom preparation, victim advocacy, case management, and other services. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT) response and is a core part of the work of CACs.

Why are Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC) and Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDTs) So Important?

Coordinated Services-CAC communities demonstrated significantly higher rates of:

  • Coordinated investigations between law enforcement and CPS
  • Team forensic interviews
  • Case reviews
  • Recording of forensic interviews
  • Interviews in child-friendly settings

Prosecution Rates-Use of the CAC approach leads to a dramatic increase in felony prosecutions of child abuse:

  • District with significant CAC usage-196%
  • District with limited CAC usage-1%

Case Processing Time-Faster criminal charging decisions in child sexual abuse cases, within 1-60 days:

  • CAC Community- 80%
  • Comparison Community A- 49%
  • Comparison Community B- 58%

A graphic describing the CAC model. On the left side, titled "Without CACs," a boy and girl icon are surrounded by a confusing array of paths to icons representing victims' services: a cross for medical, a brain for mental health, a badge for law enforcement, a heart for victim advocacy, scales for criminal justice and prosecution, and a child's hand in an adult's hand representing the help of a CAC. Without CACs, children and families are left to seek these services on their own, which can be confusing and ultimately unsuccessful. On the right, titled "With CACs," the same icons are present, but these victims' services icons are aligned with arrows pointing toward the boy and girl, encircled by a ring representing the coordination of the CAC model. This represents the CAC model's promise to coordinate and bring these crucial services directly to children.

For more information visit:

National Children’s Advocacy Center at http://www.nationalcac.org/

National Children’s Alliance: http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/

Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas: http://www.cactx.org/

Johnson County Children’s Advocacy Center: https://cacjctx.org/

 

 

 

Child Abuse in Texas

2018-04-11T22:28:33+00:00February 7th, 2017|Categories: Child Abuse|

Today, 185 Texas children will be victims of abuse. In one year, more than 65,000 cases of child abuse were confirmed in Texas. 1 in 4 Girls is sexually abused before her 18th birthday. 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before his 18th birthday.

What Is Child Abuse?

Texas law provides a definition of child abuse. In addition, the law provides criminal sanctions for assaults, sexual assaults, and other acts that may be committed against children. The definition of child abuse, which is part of the Texas Family Code, is the basis for civil actions to protect a child from an abuser (such as removal of a child from the home). The Penal Code provides the basis for the criminal prosecution of a person who assaults or otherwise commits a crime against a child. The definition of child abuse and some relevant sections of the Penal Code can be found in the appendix to this handbook.

Chapter 261 of the Family Code (recodified in 1995) states that child abuse is an act or omission that endangers or impairs a child’s physical, mental or emotional health and development. Child abuse may take several different forms:

  • physical
  • emotional injury
  • sexual abuse
  • sexual exploitation
  • physical neglect
  • medical neglect
  • inadequate supervision.

The law specifically excludes “reasonable” discipline by the child’s parent, guardian, or conservator; corporal punishment is not in itself abusive under the law. An act or omission is abusive only if “observable and material impairment” occurs as a result, or if it causes “substantial harm,” or exposes the child to risk of substantial harm.

Neglect, like physical and emotional abuse, hinges on substantial harm or observable and material impairment. The law excludes from its definition of neglect any failure to provide for the child that is due to lack of financial resources. A child living in poverty is not a victim of neglect under the Texas Family Code except in cases where relief has been offered and refused by the child’s parent, guardian, or conservator.

Accidental injury or harm is also excluded from the definition of abuse. However, a person commits abuse if s/he places a child, or allows a child to be placed, in a situation where the child is exposed to “substantial risk” of injury or harm. The law also clearly states that a person commits abuse if s/he fails to make a reasonable effort to prevent another person from abusing a child. This provision applies to all forms of abuse, including physical and emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.

Who we are at the Johnson County Children’s Advocacy Center:

The mission of the Johnson County Children’s Advocacy Center is to provide each child who has suffered abuse, with justice, hope and healing. The JCCAC has been fearless in its approach to addressing child abuse and other issues that impact the youth in Johnson County. We use a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) approach to work these serious felony cases. Our team includes the following agencies:

  • Crimes Against Children detectives
  • prosecutors
  • child protective service investigators
  • forensic interviewers
  • medical staff
  • therapists
  • family advocates
  • juvenile services.

The appropriate team members are notified each time a child’s case is referred that fits case criteria. The JCCAC works cases of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse and cases where children have witnessed homicides or other violent crimes. The Center is designed to be welcoming and comforting for children.  Just beyond the front door there is a compassionate staff and amazing K-9 Advocates waiting to greet kids. We are a state and nationally accredited Center. Our state association is Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, Inc. and our national association is the National Children’s Alliance. Our state and national associations are critical in keeping all Centers working jointly across the nation on behalf of child victims.

The Johnson County Children’s Advocacy Center has been providing services for child victims using a multi-disciplinary team approach since 1996. Our goal is to ensure that every child who has suffered abuse understands that they have incredible worth and value.

Lean more about Johnson County Children’s Advocacy Center at www.cacjctx.org

The Impact of Texas Children’s Advocacy Centers

A children’s advocacy center is the ONE non-profit to serve as the first stop for children entering the justice system because of suspected sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, and those who have witnessed a violent crime. Last year, more than 43,000 children received critical services at a Texas children’s advocacy center.

The network of 70 Texas CACs now officially serves 194 counties where 97% of the Texas population resides. Each year, courtesy services are provided to children in all remaining Texas counties, 33 states and one country.

Of the total number of children served by a Texas Children Advocacy Centers  last year:

  • 71% were involved in sexual abuse cases
  • 95% knew their perpetrator
  • 25% were not old enough to attend kindergarten

How can you help?

  • Conversation

Openly discussing this issue is the most effective tool we have to eradicate child abuse. Child sexual abuse is a crime of secrecy which, tragically, breeds within our communities because it’s difficult to talk about.

Adults must be courageous to discuss this issue openly. You can be The Difference simply by pushing discomfort and fear aside to talk openly about this issue, to start a dialogue about it, and to combat the secrecy that enables child abuse. You can be The Difference, inspire others to talk openly about it. We believe that the eradication of child abuse begins with building informed, empowered communities with the courage to talk openly about child abuse.

  • Locate and learn more about your Local Children’s Advocacy Center:

Children’s advocacy centers (CACs) provide a safe, child-friendly environment where law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, medical and mental health professionals may share information and develop effective, coordinated strategies sensitive to the needs of each unique case and child.

  • Learn the signs of child abuse and what to look for:

Signs of child abuse can be subtle, and in many cases, nonexistent. Changes in your child’s routine or new unexplained behaviors are worth a second look.

    • Unexplained injuries
    • Changes in behavior
    • Returning to earlier behaviors
    • Fear of certain places or people
    • Changes in eating
    • Changes to sleeping
    • Changes in school performance or attendance
    • Lack of personal care in hygiene
    • Risk-taking behaviors
    • Inappropriate sexual behaviors

 

  • Report suspected child abuse in Texas