Should I get counseling for my child? Children may be uncomfortable discussing the abuse with their parents because of shame 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. Children may interpret a parent's negative emotions with the situation as negative feelings toward the child. Reassure your child that you are not upset with them, rather that you are upset with the situation.
For the above reasons, it is important to give your child the opportunity to talk with a professional. Children have different needs that must be addressed from the incident to recovery. Should negative emotions and reactions to the abuse remain untreated, or if the child cannot properly express discomfort, a child will only experience greater suffering and trauma. Mental health therapists can apply their special training, knowledge, and experience to help ensure that your child recovers as quickly as possible. Family counseling is also a valuable tool in the road to recovery. Allowing your child to talk to a professional child therapist is a positive step toward healing.
What happens at the center? The Black Belt Regional Child Advocacy Center is a child-friendly place where children of all ages come to speak with specially trained interviewers about allegations of child abuse. The BBRCAC process involves a team of professionals from multiple agencies such as law enforcement, Human Resources, District Attorney’s office, mental health, medical community, victim advocate, and others.
What should I tell my child about the interview? You might tell your child, “You and I are going to the Child Advocacy Center. It is a special place where kids feel safe to talk. The person you will be talking to talks to lots of kids about what happened to them. They need to know everything that you remember so we can make sure you are safe and okay. It is important that you tell the truth and only talk about what really happened. It is okay for you to talk to them. You are not in any trouble.”
Who will my child talk to at the center? Your child will talk to 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 an 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 a child to talk to them.
May I watch the interview? No, only those people who are directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. This is to reduce the possible stress that the child may feel and to provide a neutral setting for the child and the investigation.
Will my child need a medical exam? The investigative team will decide if your child needs a medical exam. The Center’s staff will coordinate an appointment for an exam if one is needed.
May I talk to my child about what happened? No, not unless your child brings up the subject and wants to talk about it. In that case, listen to your child without commenting or questioning. Be sure to reassure your child that they will be alright. If your child tells you something that alarms or upsets you, contact the BBRCAC Victim Advocate.
What happens after the interview? You will be able to talk to a member of the investigative team after the interview. They will tell you in general terms what they learned from the interview and what the next step in their investigation will be. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and voice your concerns. When the team is finished with their investigation, they will send the reports to the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney will decide whether or not to prosecute, not the child or parent.
Your child may have to go to court to testify. If this happens, the CAC Victim Advocate will meet with your child to explain the process.
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