Every child should be safe in his or her own castle.
Communities across the nation are confronting the frightening reality that many of their children are being sexually abused. What they have only begun to recognize is that often the agencies that are responsible for helping these children are, instead, creating far more trauma than the original abuse.
Recognizing that we are the system and we have the ability to change it, professionals in Washington County, Unicoi County, Carter County and Johnson County decided to redesign our system so that its primary focus is the child victim and his or her family. The new approach is called the Children’s Advocacy Center of the 1st Judicial District-which is a private, not-for-profit organization. It involves child protective services, law enforcement, prosecution, mental health, medical, education and other resources in a community response to child abuse.
It is extremely painful for children to talk about these experiences, and in our present system of child protection they must face a bewildering parade of unfamiliar adults. They must recount the nightmare over and over to the police, a physician, a child protective service worker, a district attorney, a therapist and others in settings which were never designed for children.