What do I tell my child about the Child Advocacy Center?
What do I tell my child about the Center interview?
You might tell your child, "You and I are going to The Child Advocacy Center; it's a special place where kids go to talk. The person you will be talking to talks to lots of kids about all sorts of things. We are going because we want to make sure that you are safe and okay. It is important for you to tell the truth. YOU ARE NOT IN ANY TROUBLE."
Who will my child talk to?
Your child will talk with a Forensic Interviewer. The Interviewer has special training and experience in talking with children about difficult subjects. The Interviewer's goal is to make your child as comfortable as possible while gathering the necessary information for the investigation. Questions are asked in a non-threatening and non-leading manner. The Interviewer moves at a pace that is comfortable for your child and never forces your child to talk.
Can I watch the interview?
No, parents are not allowed to observe the interview. Only those people who are directly involved in the case are able to observe the interview. This is done to reduce the possible stress that can be placed on a child and to provide a neutral setting for the child and the investigation. During the interview, you will have the opportunity to speak with a Victim Advocate from Starting Point. The role of the Victim Advocate is to support you and your child. Before and after the interview you will have an opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns with the investigative team members.
Will my child need a medical exam?
A medical exam is not required in all cases. However, it is usually recommended when there are allegations that a child has been physically or sexually abused. The exam is conducted to ensure that your child is healthy and able to recover from any traumatic incident that she or he has encountered. The Child Advocacy Center can make a referral for your child to see his or her family physician or a trained forensic medical professional. If you have financial difficulty paying for medical care, please talk to Center staff.
Should I talk to my child about what happened?
You should not question your child about the abuse. If your child brings up the subject and wants to talk about it, listen without commenting, questioning or judging. Be sure to reassure your child that he or she will be alright. You may get upset when hearing about what has happened to your child. Be sure to tell your child that you are not upset at him or her and that whatever happened was not her or his fault.
What happens after the interview?
You will be able to to talk to a member of the investigative team. They will tell you in general terms what they learned from the interview. You will have an opportunity to ask questions and voice your concerns. When the team is finished with the investigation, they will send a report to the Prosecutor's office. The Prosecutor—not the child, the parent or The Center—will decide whether or not to prosecute. Your child may have to go to court to testify. If this happens, you and your child will be linked with the County Attorney's Victim Advocate who will help you in the courtroom process.
Should I consider counseling for my child?
Probably yes. Children may be uncomfortable discussing the abuse with their parents because they feel shame, embarrassment or guilt. Children dislike seeing their parents upset or angry. Therefore they may try to protect their parents by not telling them about the abuse. Reassure your child that you are not upset with them, rather that you are upset with the situation. It is important to give your child an opportunity to talk with a professional. Children have different needs that may need to be addressed from the incident to the recovery. Allowing your child to talk with a professional therapist is a positive step toward healing. Also, you as a parent may feel that you could benefit from speaking with a professional regarding your own personal feelings. The CACCC can provide you with a list of local mental health professionals in the community and assist you in linking with those individuals and services.