Child Victims
Nancy Chandler  -  2005/5/25
Does the NCA have any programs, policies, or guidelines that focus specifically on adolescent victims? Do CACs generally handle adolescents differently from young children, and if so, how?
1.  NChandler
 Our programs deal with children of all ages. Of the 148,000+ children our CACs provided services for last year, 37 were younger than 6 and another 37 were between the ages of 7 12. The remaining children (26) were 13-18 so obviously our programs have expertise across the ages. There really isnt a major difference in how these cases are handled. Our programs tend to have separate waiting rooms for adolescents with toys or materials more suited to their age group, and sometimes you might have forensic interviewers who have a better rapport with one age or another. Many of our programs have support andor therapy groups for adolescents.
According to the research of Dr. John Briere, 1 in 5 men (17 million in the US) are sexually aroused by little children. Our primary line of defense against pedophiles who act out is little children whom we instruct to "tell if someone touches your privates." Should we re-examine our approach to prevention? REFS: John Briere & Marsha Runtz. University males' sexual interest in children: Predicting potential indices of pedophilia in a nonforensic sample. Child Abuse & Neglect, 13(1), 1989, 65 75. Smiljanich, K., & Briere, J. (1996). Self-reported sexual interest in children: Sex differences and psychosocial correlates in a university sample. Violence and Victims, 11, 39-50. Notes online at:
1.  Pamela Pine
 It seems that we should be focusing on intervention with those at risk of possible perpetration. The sooner we are able to intervene with those who have been perpetrated against, the more likely we are to ensure that the perpetration does not enter into a new generation.
2.  NChandler
 I am no expert on prevention, so I will refer you to one of our partner organizations, From Darkness to Light. D2L is a wonderful organization that works to put adults in charge of protecting children and they have programs and resources to share. I would encourage you to visit their website at
Ma'am: Do you feel there is any direct correlation between the violence in video games and today's movies and how our children are being victimized? If so, could you expound briefly on it?
1.  Jennifer Fisher
 I am the Children's Advocate at the Sexual AssualtDomestic Violence Center and am currently studying to be a School Psychologist. In a class on Developmental Social Psychology we discussed this topic. The research shows that although the violence in the media that chilren are seeing plays a role in the violence children do and are victims of it is not the only factor. Parental involvement is a key factor. If the parent is watching with the child and discussing what the child is seeing with the child then the child is less likely to become violent. As Nancy said, children are not developmentally able that the violence that they are seeing in the media is not real.
2.  NChandler
 I dont really know the research behind this, but I think violence in our society has a negative impact on the lives of children. Too many TV shows, video games, and movies feature individuals behaving violently to one another. Children are too often exposed to this violence when they are too young to sort out the difference between reality and fantasy.
Can you speak to the benefits and challenges that might arise in bridging Child Advocacy Centers with Family Justice Centers (FJC)? With a FJC being defined as a one-stop-shop (a la San Diego FJC) for victims of family violence. Any national, as well as local implications for such a bridge?
1.  Ricci Hellman
 Yes, the local CAC is our project partner to establish a FJC. The CAC Board has approved the CAC serving as an incubator for the FJC. Have you seen any examples of where CACs have bridged seamless services with comprehensive family services?
2.  NChandler
 I think Family Justice Centers are a great notion, but if a Childrens Advocacy Center already exists in the community where the FJC is to be built, they must be at the table as decisions are made. Our main focus is on the protection of children at risk for abuse and ensuring that these children receive all of the services to which they are entitled in a non-threatening, child friendly setting. To the extent that these goals are in line with those of the FJC, I think we can work well together.
Nancy: what are most common excuses, I mean reasons, that agencies don't fully collaborate or partner to develop MDTs and/or CACs? Are there still States that allow agencies to use confidentiality to avoid protecting children?
1.  Holly Oehrlein
 Virginia developed a publication that contains information about what the Virginia Code says MDT members can share. It's available online at: http:www.dcjs.virginia.govjuvenileresourcesinfoSharing.pdf. I would encourage other states to develop similar resources to encourage collaboration.
2.  NChandler
 I think we have to constantly work on our relationships with our partner agencies and make certain that everyone is on the same page in dealing with child victims of abuse. After having worked to get a program up and going, it is hard to have to go back time and again to bring new individuals into our work, but we know that with turnover in positions, we have to make sure that everyone understands and enforces our protocols. In most instances, confidentiality rules do not intrude on the work of the CAC as along as all the partner agencies have signed the Interagency Agreement or Protocol allowing the exchange of necessary information. Many states in fact, have laws that support this sharing of information. You might want to look at our website ( for the programs in your state and see how others are dealing with these issues.
I am the Victim Assistance Coordinator in a small rural community in Texas. There are very few agencies here that work with child victims of violent crime. This is an area that I am very interested in developing, but even in my position (which is a part of the DA's office), have had great difficulties in breaching the "confidentiality" screen used by local agencies regarding these child victims. What would your suggestions be for organizing a group of advocates; for working around/through some of the "turf wars" that erupt?
1.  NChandler
 You are sitting in a perfect place to help build a comprehensive response to child abuse cases. The DAs offices and the Victim Witness Coordinators have been at the forefront of many of our efforts to develop our program which respond to child victims of violent crime. Texas has more than 40 CAC programs and there is a state office for CACs in Austin. You might want to go on our website and find the CAC program closest to you. These programs are always eager to help each other in development. The state office for Childrens Advocacy Centers of Texas can be reached at 800-255-2574 or at
2.  Sheri Rettew
 This is definitely not easy in our rural area either. However, we've found that MDTs (multi-disciplinary teams) involving social services, medical personnel, sexual assault center, law enforcement and your office meet to outline the potential problems and benefits to working together. It takes time for everyone to trust one another, and there are definite turf issues, but with time and working relationships, we've seen improvement.
Please provide contact information for those organizations or individuals in the U.S. who provide legal services to advocate for child victims in criminal and juvenile delinquency case? What are the standards for that legal representation? What funding is available for this legal representation of child victims?
1.  MCiarlante
 You might start by contacting the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia -- they can direct you to other legal advocates for children & teens around the country.
2.  NChandler
 This is really an area that I am much less familiar with, as our programs are usually working with children in dependency court or in criminal court cases of the adult offenders. Sorry I can't be of much help in this area.
Nancy can you shed some new thoughts on collaborative efforts with rape crisis centers and CACs, for the most part legislation that is clear on the roles and expectations for children. Thanks!
1.  NChandler
 Many of our programs are outgrowths of rape crisis centers so there are many places where there is a strong collaboration. Our program in Burlington, NC has done a wonderful job of defining roles and clearly delineating who does what in response to cases of sexual assault. Some rape crisis programs do counseling and others do counseling as well as sexual assault exams. I think in the areas where they do the exams, it is critically important that children not wait in areas where they would come in contact with adults who had been sexually assaulted. We believe that children should be seen in programs that are child friendly and geared to the needs of the child. If this can be accomplished within the rape crisis center framework and the team believes this is the best place for the children to be seen, than the CAC and rape crisis centers can create great partnerships. I dont really know of legislation that would delineate these roles, and think it is more the often the result of agreed upon protocols.
Our city has been experiencing many traumatic events the past few weeks; arson, murder of a 14yo honor student and violence in the mall. HS students have begun to talk about what they can do to show the community there are good kids and are expressing some level of trauma-- HS staff are turning to me as admin in charge of prevention services for possible assistance--What would be most helpful to these students?
1.  MCiarlante
 Please check out the Teen Victim Project at the National Center for Victims of Crime through our website at, and feel free to email or call for support and technical assitance in youth-led outreach.We work with youth partnership sites across the country to engage teens as activists, problem-solvers, and peer outreach workers. Working for change can be an important resiliency-builder!
2.  NChandler
 I think that teenagers are eager to express their opinions about the violence in our society. A good suggestion would be that they work on Child Abuse Prevention Month activities (in April of each year). Many of our programs sponsor blue ribbon campaigns that highlight prevention. If something is needed more quickly, you might want to have a speaker for an assembly who can address the issues of violence and help build constructive responses that the teens can engage in. You've got a tough job. Good luck.
Because we know there is such a significant overlap in families where there is domestic violence and child abuse, how can domestic violence advocates best be incorporated into a child advocacy center program to help support the adult victim while also supporting the childs needs; additionally, what if, for safety reasons, the adult victim does not want to participate in the prosecution of the adult perpetrator/batterer?
1.  NChandler
 Many of our Childrens Advocacy Centers have a representative from the domestic violence field present when the multidisciplinary team staffs cases. These representatives help with making decisions that are good for the entire family. If the team makes the decision to prosecute an offender, the CAC staff will follow these recommendations and try to the extent possible to assist the other members of the family. Our concern is always that the child must be protected.
Do you know of any resources that assist parents in navigating the system and knowing their children's rights when their children are victims of crime? By this I mean are there pamphlets or information available to tell parents their children's rights as victims and how to enforce those rights.
1.  Patricia Sheffi
 We have also found some good information through OVC and some pamphlets through Channing Bete that address the more common questions parents have.
2.  MCiarlante
 To find the local victim service providers and victimwitness advocates, contact the National Center for Victims of Crime at 1-800-FYI-CALL.
3.  NChandler
 These rights will vary from state to state. Most states have a Crime Victim's CompensationServices office in one of their state offices and they would probably be able to assist you. Look in the phone book under state offices for the location closest to you.
4.  Topher
 Often times the victim wittness uint of your DA's office has information in abundance.
We are located in a rural area and have researched launching a CAC to serve at least 7 surrounding counties. The closest CACs are Tedi Bear in Greenville (serving 30 counties) and Carousel in Wilmington. Can you point us in a direction to gather information in terms of operating budget, guidelines, etc? Any other guidance would be greatly appreciated!
1.  Cindy
 Our agency is also conducting some preliminary research to operate a Children's Advocacy Center but in rural Pennsylvania. Would there be any agency in Pennsylvania that would be able to provide assistance to us?
2.  NChandler
 We would be happy to help you with this at National Children's Alliance. We have a number of publications that will assist you with the information you need for start up. I would also want you to contact Cathy Purvis, the Executive Director of the Children's Advocacy Centers of North Carolina. Cathy is an old hand at CAC development and would be a great resource for you. Her phone is 336-886-4589 or email at
Could you please provide some information and resources that would be helpful in the planning and implementation of a Children's Advocacy Center in rural Pennsylvania?
1.  Lynn Carson
 Are you aware of the State chapter of CAC's? They can provide contact information for a national project specifically designed to assist organizaitons with starting a CAC.
2.  NChandler
 We have a great resource for you! The Northeast Regional Children's Advocacy Center is a program of the Philadelphia Children's Alliance and is in business to help programs develop. The Project Director of NRCAC is Anne Lynn and you can reach her through email at or by calling 800-662-4124.
Hello, is it just me or is there a shortage of mentoring programs for adolescents from stressed and disadvantaged families? So many of the kids we see are missing contact with positive, supportive adult role models. Young malesin particular, and perhaps African American boys most of all. Big Brothers and Sisters is maxxed out! Can you speak to this issue?
1.  Yolonda West
 Please contact us at we are presently working with displaced youth in middle and high school due to being evacuted from KATRINA, mothers coming out of prison and shelters. We are in Atlanta and are in the process of creating a web page for others doing the same type of work and for those providing these services that can donate hours and input to this particular group. Contact Ms West at
2.  NChandler
 I wish I had a ready resource for you. Big Brothers Big Sisters is probably the best and I know that some in the faith community have worked on developing mentoring relationships. It's difficult to have enough good people to do this work. There was a great article in the Washington Post a couple of days ago about Ted Leonsis who is located here in DC and who mentored a young African American youth with tremendous success. I wish more people would take on this cause.
Will the JFA enforce the use of GAL in the Federal Judicial System?
1.  Sam
 JFA stands for the Justice for All Act which enhances federal crime victims' rights. A Guardian Ad Litem can be used during federal charges of production of child pornography or if cases of where an adult travels to another state to have relations with a minor.
2.  NChandler
 Sorry, but I don't know what the JFA is nor am I familiar with many cases where a GAL is used in the Federal system.
Do you feel Gang Involvement contributes, negatively, how teenagers respond towards their parents and teachers?
1.  Tanisha D.
 I think if the child is not feeling safe at home, they will turn the the next level of comfort and majority of the time it's the negative solutions. Gangs, Drugs, violence etc.
2.  Tanya Fox
 I think when kids are not feeling accepted at home they would look to other means to feel accepted. There would be a negative impact on family especially because of not having a lot of respect for their family, which would also spread to other adults that are in an authority position over them.
3.  NChandler
 I think children join gangs for a sense of belonging that they are missing in their home or with their families. Oviously violent or criminal gangs are a danger to the teens and to society. We need to have opportunities for teenagers to have good role models and good activities that will keep them away from violence and criminal behavior.
We are a dual service provider for victims of family violence and sexual assault, currently in the process of establishing a Child Advocacy Center. I have two questions...1) How can we educate the community and prosecutors office to ensure that a conflict is not seen in our programs? 2) We serve two counties in a four circuit judicial district, how can we ensure that we are not carrying the burden of the other two counties?
1.  NChandler
 Wow. That's a lot to take on, but many programs have done so successfully. I would first make certain that all members of the multidisciplinary team (law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services, medical, mental health and victim advocacy) are all on board and signed onto your interagency agreement and protocols. All of these parties must understand and agree to the services you offer. As far as educating the general public, my rule is to talk to any gathering that asks you! That is the only way to truly inform the community of the needs for your program and the services you are offering. As to #2 I think you should try to offer some limited service to all those additional counties even if it is just limited to facilitating the team meetingscase reviews.
How do you feel about the fact so many CAC’s these days are either highly “interview” intensive or highly “therapy” intensive? Where should the efforts of an ED be when developing a new upcoming CAC?
1.  Carolyn
 I am a director of a CAC and we focused on providing prevention, interventioninterview and treatment services. I think CAC's are shaped by the needs of your community and the willingness of your Multidisciplinary teams to do forensic interviews in a child friendly setting. If CPSLaw Enforcement won't go for interviewing at a CAC or having an independent forensic interviewer then it is a difficult challenge to get them to change their opinions, however not impossible. Look at the needs in your service area and the openess of your critical players.
2.  NChandler
 I guess I might not agree with your hypotheses that programs are interview vs therapy intensive. I think that the forensic interview is the doorway to our services and to the work of the CAC so this is a critical component. Theraputic intervention is really determined by the community and whether or not therapy for children and families is readily available. I suspect that the programs you mention are those where there was little theraputic intervention available and the CAC stepped into the breech to offer the service. I think an ED has to focus on the mission of the CAC...making sure that children at risk for abuse receive all of the services to which they are entitled in a child friendly setting that puts the needs of the child foremost.
Nancy, Is the NCA doing any collaboration with PCA USA in order that we might coordinate our public awareness efforts? As a small CAC, we don't have the resources for a great deal of public awareness. PCA NC does work with us but perhaps the message would be stronger if we were united on some national plans. What do you think?
1.  NChandler
 The work we have done with PCA has mostly been through our state chapters where the PCA and NCA chapters are often the same group of people. Nationally they do great work, but our efforts on prevention from NCA have focused a lot on the Darkness to Light model of having our local programs work on prevention and public awareness.
2.  Pamela Pine
 Stop the Silence has been doing some extensive public awareness and we have some materials (e.g., a TV PSA that can be tailored for local use) that might help small, local organizations get information out through various media. We would be happy to try to help.
Is there a national registry of Child advocacy Centers?
1.  NChandler
 We have a listing on our website at
Good Afternoon and thank you for being available. Our county, which serves 10 towns & cities, is just starting a new CAC. As a representative from our local crisis center we are still trying to figure out how much involvement the crisis center should/could have with a CAC. We are definitely there for the non-offending caregiver, but what about the debriefing team after.
1.  NChandler
 Good questions. I think you all should really sit down collaboratively and figure our what will work best for the clients you serve. I am grateful that you provide services for the nonoffending caregiver. The multidisciplinary team for your area is best at deciding who all should attend case review. I would defer the decision to them hoping that you all decide this together.
I am the founder of an organization named Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse. We work on comprehensive programming toward the prevention and treatment of CSA. Given that the stats with regard to the number of children sexually molested by the time they are 18 seems to have changed little over the past five decades, and that most of the perpetrators are within families, there appears to be more of an overall systemic issue that is not being dealt with due to the secrecy and shame surrounding this issue -- and, I might say, the imbalance of power overall in our society. Would you comment.
1.  NChandler
 Being a bit of an old timer having started working in child abuse in the early 70's, I have seen a remarkable change in how we deal with child sexual abuse. As professionals, we did not really even begin to address child sexual abuse until the mid 1980's, so I feel hopeful that we have made progress. I believe that our programs to hold offenders accountable have made a difference, but truly, until society begins to own the problem of child abuse, we have many miles to go. A while back we started the National Call to Action to End Child Maltreatment, and sadly we had to end this movement because of a lack of funding. If I remember correctly, we as a nation for every dollar we spend on cancer research, we spend 5 cents on research on child abuse. And we know that child abuse affects many more people than cancer. I would hope that as a society we can begin to address this enequity and begin really looking at the causes and best treatment options.
2.  sherlock13 and their Circle Of Trust campaign in California might also offer you some insight into this problem.
What do you think of movie rating guidelines and how it relates to child development especially, regarding sexual images. Is what Hollywood finds appropriate in line with research?
Nancy, I teach victimology now, but represented many children in neglect/abuse cases before. My question is, how important is a child-friendly environment, complete with child furniture and furnishings? (I know the CAC in Washington, DC was very nicely decorated.)
1.  kidadvocates
 It's critical. Children need to be in a child-friendly environmen!
2.  Diane Payne
 I would add to Nancy's comment that the interview environment also needs to be appropriate to the child's cultural context. A document on our website at -ຈforຈtheຈForensicຈInterview.pdf - provides helpful information for interviewing Native American children, for example.
3.  NChandler
 It is tremendously important. Children need to be seen in a place that is designed for them and helps them to be more comfortable. We really have to try and make the criminal justice system, which was never intended to deal with children, more accessible to them. I remember in the days before CACs when children were interviewed in police stations by officers in uniform and carrying firearms or in medical facilties where an adult rape victim waited for services...We have to try and make the system more accessible and less scary for children.
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