Use of a CAC reduces trauma to child victims by minimizing duplication of interviews and examinations, and improves the ability of investigators to uncover facts and evidence. The CAC model is an internationally recognized, evidence-based practice.
Services we provide:
- Forensic Interviews
- Forensic Medical Evaluations
- Mental Health Referrals
The purpose of a forensic interview is to obtain information from a child about abuse allegations that will support accurate and fair decision making by the multidisciplinary investigative team within the criminal justice, child protection and services delivery systems. Forensic interviews are the foundation for multiple functions including child abuse investigation, prosecution, child protection and implementation of appropriate services, and may also be the beginning of the road toward healing for many children and families. The forensic interview is conducted by a specially-trained interviewer who has received training from the National Children’s Advocacy Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This interview is video-recorded and takes into account the developmental level and cultural sensitivities of the child, and is conducted in an unbiased, legally-admissible manner.
Forensic Medical Evaluation
A forensic medical evaluation is performed at the Center for Child Justice by UPMC Altoona Physician Assistants who are specially trained. This examination emphasizes the detection and documentation of sexual and/or physical abuse in children.
As a neutral agency, the Center for Child Justice works closely with community agencies to facilitate a collaborative approach to child abuse investigations. By limiting the number of interviews and interviewers, children are less traumatized by the process.
In order to ensure collaboration and participation from members of the multidisciplinary team, referrals to the Center for Child Justice may come from prosecution, law enforcement and children and youth services.
Indicators of Child Sexual Abuse
Indicators of sexual abuse or exploitation include physical injury to genitals, sexually transmitted infections, bladder or urinary infection, difficulty swallowing, pain going to the bathroom, nightmares, resistance to removing clothing at appropriate times, sexually acting out, unexplained and early pregnancy, initiating sophisticated sexual behaviors, engaging other children into inappropriate sexualized play, playing out sexual scenarios with toys or dolls, excessive masturbation, or regression in young children.
Responding to Child Sexual Abuse
What should you do if a child discloses sexual abuse?
- Remain calm to avoid scaring or confusing the child. Let the child tell you what happened in his or her own words. The information the child gives you may not be complete and more details may be disclosed as time goes by. Do not pressure the child to talk. Leave the investigation to the proper authorities.
- Tell the child you are glad they disclosed to you and that the abuse is not their fault. Support the child no matter what.
- If the child was recently sexually abused, do not let the child bathe, shower, swim or clean up in any manner.
- Seek medical attention for the child. The child may have injuries or sexually transmitted diseases that are not noticeable. The child may also need a forensic medical exam.
- Be supportive. With proper treatment and support a child can develop a positive and healthy outlook. Free and confidential help is available for the child and their family.