Snohomish County (4.20.12) – Throughout the month of April, Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center, Everett is joining National Children’s Alliance and its thousands of members and supporters across the country to bring much needed attention to the issues of child abuse intervention and prevention. Child abuse is a national tragedy and a silent killer. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children & Families, in 2010 alone, an estimated 1,560 children died from abuse and neglect. Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center, along with National Children’s Alliance and hundreds of organizations like us throughout the country, are calling on our communities to speak up for these victims and act on their behalf to prevent further tragedy.
As a supporter and member of the Children’s Advocacy Center movement, Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center recognizes the importance of awareness raising and community education surrounding the subject of child abuse. We serve over 1,000 abuse children annually, providing all the needed intervention services to help these children heal and return to a normal & safe life. During 2011 we served 1,054 kids, providing intervention services of medical exams, child forensic interviews, victim advocacy, mental health assessments and ongoing therapy, child protective services, law enforcement case investigations, prosecution services and advocacy, and reaching thousands of community members to educate them on how to recognize child sexual and physical abuse and what to do if you find it.
Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of National Children’s Alliance, remarked, “National Children’s Alliance, along with our various partners and supporters around the country, strives to put an end to child abuse and neglect through effective programs and services for victims of abuse and their families. Without the coordinated prevention and intervention efforts of children’s advocacy centers around the country, so many children would not be served in times of need. We ask our fellow citizens to join us in educating the public on the signs of abuse and calling attention to this national issue by supporting local child abuse intervention and prevention organizations throughout the month of April and year-round.”
As added by Mark Roe, Snohomish County Prosecutor and also long time Dawson Place Board member, “I have been directly involved in the prosecution of people who abuse children. While prevention is everyone’s ultimate goal, the single greatest advance in responding to child abuse has been the improved treatment and services provided for victims. Everyone in Snohomish County should be proud that Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center, the only full service Child Advocacy Center in Washington, is in their community. With that pride comes a responsibility to support the non-profit Dawson Place CAC, and to help us help these kids.”
According to Mary Wahl, Dawson Place Executive Director, “As a member of National Children’s Alliance, Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center uses the multidisciplinary approach to responding to allegations of child abuse. We would like to educate our community about the benefits of this process and how to recognize signs of child abuse. During the month of April, the issue of child abuse will be at the forefront of national discussions and we encourage our fellow citizens to stop and pay attention as much needed light is shed on the subject of child sexual and physical abuse.”
For information regarding the signs of child abuse or how to report it, please contact Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center at 425-388-7497 or visit our website atwww.dawsonplace.org, or for more about National Child Abuse Prevention Month, visit www.nationalchildrensalliance.org.
· Dawson Place’s Mission Statement: We are a group of professionals responding to concerns of child abuse. We are dedicated to helping kids, seeking justice and promoting healthy families.
· Dawson Place is the co-location of the following organizations: Providence Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office – Special Investigations Unit, Compass Health – Child Abuse Program (CAP), Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office – Special Assault Unit, and Child Protective Services. By putting all services under one roof, and making it child-friendly we take the fear and stress out of the experience for kids and their non-offending family members.
· Dawson Place is a National Children’s Alliance (NCA) accredited Child Advocacy Center of Washington serving Snohomish County.
· National Children’s Alliance (NCA) is a national association dedicated to helping local communities respond to allegations of child abuse in ways that are effective and efficient and put the needs of child victims of abuse first. As the accrediting body for the over 750 Child Advocacy Centers around the country, NCA provides training, financial support, technical assistance, leadership, national advocacy and access to current research findings on a national level to children’s advocacy centers around the country as well as numerous developing centers, multidisciplinary teams and child abuse professionals. As the national authority on multidisciplinary approaches to supporting child victims of abuse, NCA’s purpose is to empower local communities to provide comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to victims of child abuse.www.nationalchildrensalliance.org
· "Stranger danger" has often been overemphasized by those who would keep children safe from predators. While studies have shown that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused by the age of 18, the sad truth is that 90 percent of victims know the offenders well. They are relatives, friends, neighbors, and, as alleged in the Penn State case, coaches.
· Understanding what keeps child victims of sexual abuse silent is easy. They fear that revealing the abuse will bring harm to them or those they love, loss of affection, and punishment. Child sexual abuse is a crime that thrives in a climate of silence, secrecy, and shame. Fear is what offenders count on as they groom their victims.
· What is not so easily explained is the silence of adult witnesses to such crimes. But if the problem is a lack of information about how to report such abuse and what will happen as a result, we must make sure that information is more widely known and understood. Here is one positive action we can all agree on. Raise your right hand and repeat after me: "If I see, hear, suspect, or in any way become aware that a child is being abused, I will not keep silent. I will have the courage to help that child break free of the silence, secrecy, and shame that should never define a child's life."
· If a child you know discloses abuse, thank them for sharing the abuse situation with you. Tell them you will take it seriously and help them. Listen to the child and write down everything they say. Note date and time. Do this as they are talking. Do not ask leading questions, such as “Did Tom touch or hurt you?” Only ask, “Is there anything else you want to tell me?” Keep writing and get it all. The next step is to take action, and not remain a by-stander. Report child abuse by contacting:
§ Calling 911 and making a report to law enforcement.
§ Calling 1-800-562-5624 and making a CPS report
§ Calling the Providence Sexual Assault/Abuse Crisis Line for advice. You can call 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. Dial 425-252-4800, for an advocate to assist you.
· Most of all, stay calm and do not panic, and do not confront the alleged offender. Try to maintain normal routines in the child’s life. Once you speak with a professional, you will understand the next steps.