Child abuse cases can be complex and they require many different professionals to be involved. Historically, a child might have been interviewed multiple times, furthering the trauma. Agencies did not always share information and the child and the cases suffered.

At the Advocacy Center for Children in Galveston County, our focus is the best interest of the child. Our center is child-friendly to encourage children to feel safe sharing what has happened to them. Our interview specialists are well trained for this incredibly important task.

We strive to minimize any further trauma by coordinating all of the different agencies involved in the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse cases. These professionals include law enforcement, prosecutors with the District Attorney’s Office, Child Protective Services, medical professionals and mental health. Additionally, the center provides families with family advocacy, assistance with Crime Victim’s Assistance applications and trauma focused therapy. All of these services are available, free of charge, to child victims and their non-offending family members. We also have programs to increase community awareness and training for professionals who work with children. These programs include Mandatory Reporting Training for professionals who serve children and Child Safety Programs for pre-K through eighth grade.

It can be scary to be a parent or caregiver. It seems more and more difficult to avoid news about child abuse, kids being approached online by predators and cyber bullying.

As a parent or caregiver of a child, there are so many questions. Is this really happening in my neighborhood? Is my child old enough to be safe? What can I do?

In 2016, 394 forensic interviews of child victims in Galveston County were conducted by the Advocacy Center for Children, with a total of 1,378 clients receiving services through us. These include victims of both sexual and physical abuse, as well as other types of abuse.

According to the National Children’s Alliance, 90 percent of child victims know their abuser; our numbers in Galveston County last year were even higher. Across the board, children are more likely to be sexually or physically abused by someone they know, making it important to equip them with the knowledge and tools to protect themselves.

If you are interested in bringing the Texas Mandatory Reporting Training or Child Safety Program to your organization, school or group, please call me at 409-741-6000.

Candy Hattingh is an executive assistant and outreach advocate for the Child Advocacy Center in Galveston.

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