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Letter From The Executive Director
National statistics reflect that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. The prevalence of child physical and sexual abuse and neglect are staggering, and our county is not an exception. Sadly, all forms of child abuse: sexual, physical and neglect, all occur in every part of Montgomery County, in every socio-economic, racial and ethnic group.
When a child is abused and tells someone about the abuse in locations without access to a Child Advocacy Center, interviews are often conducted on multiple occassions and in different locations by police, social workers, district attorneys, medical specialists and mental health care providers. The multiple interviews require children to repeatedly recount the horrors of their abuse to many people. This process has caused unnecessary trauma to children over the years, making it impossible for many to find the strength to testify in court so their abusers could be brought to justice. Child abusers go free when their victims cannot testify.
There are steps we can take to prevent child abuse and to heal the children who have suffered. Nationally, Child Advocacy Centers have been created to reduce the trauma to child abuse victims caused by the investigation process and to more effectively prosecute those who abuse children. A Child Advocacy Center is a child-focused program where representatives from many disciplines meet to discuss and make decisions about the investigation, prosecution, intervention and treatment of child abuse cases. They also work together to prevent further victimization of children. Approximately one third of the counties in Pennsylvania are served by a Child Advocacy Center, and there are only about 750 such centers throughout the entire country. Mission Kids is proud to serve Montgomery County as a Fully Accredited Member of the National Children’s Alliance, the accrediting organization for Child Advocacy Centers across the country.
Mission Kids brings together professionals who respond to allegations of child abuse in Montgomery County as a team to interview alleged child victims and to develop investigation and intervention strategies. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, every police district in Montgomery County, and the Montgomery County Office of Children and Youth, have all pledged to coordinate interviewing, investigation and prosecution of alleged child abuse cases at Mission Kids. Since the prevention and treatment of child abuse is most effectively accomplished as a team, Mission Kids has also joined forces with Montgomery County Victim’s Services, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Carson Valley Children's Aid, and the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research of the University of Pennsylvania to help the victims of child abuse in Montgomery County begin to heal. Mission Kids currently serves over 400 children and their families every year.
Mission Kids is centrally located.The interview of the child victim is conducted by a specially trained forensic interviewer, who specializes in knowing how to ask neutral, age appropriate questions, to lessen the stress of the interview process. Our Family Advocates provide appropriate referrals to medical, therapeutic and social services for abused children and their families.
Please join our team to help the abused children in Montgomery County begin to heal, and to wipe out child abuse in our communities. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of abused children.
Abbie Newman, RN, JD