MONTROSE, SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Experts say the pandemic has resulted in many more unreported cases of child abuse since kids were out of school and social situations where the abuse could have been detected and reported by teachers and other adults.
Children’s Advocacy Center of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties is stepping in, hoping to help the abuse come to light. The center offers therapy among an array of services to help children begin the healing and overcome the trauma.
The medical exam room is where child victims of sexual or physical abuse could be taken to be examined. It is just the start of a process to help those kids heal.
A two-way mirror is used by a therapist to witness the child’s behavior while the caregiver wears an earpiece to follow the therapist’s instructions to help the child open up and progress.
Victims as young as 2 and a half and their trusted caregiver are helped through emotional and physical distress.
“Stories are difficult. Families, kids they go through a lot sometimes and it is hard,” Janine Fortney, Director, Children’s Advocacy Center of Susquehanna & Wyoming Counties.
While cases of abuse went underreported during the pandemic, that is changing.
“As we’ve seen kids getting back into different types of activities, a lot of schools starting to open up a little bit more, we are starting to see a rise in those numbers again,” Fortney said.
After a young boy or girl has been abused by a family member, neighbor or community member, the child’s caregiver is often ill-equipped to pick up the pieces. CAC helps teach those caregivers different trauma triggers, coping skills, and psycho-education.
"It can really help with building that bond again between the parent/caregiver and the child,” Andrea Venesky, trauma therapist at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Susquehanna & Wyoming Counties said.
While CAC serves as an advocacy organization to help child victims thrive, it urges everyone to be more proactive in keeping our eyes and ears open and report suspected abuse.
“It’s out there in every nook and cranny of our lives. We have to be aware of it and we have to be able to make a phone call,” Fortney said.
Children’s Advocacy Center of Susquehanna & Wyoming Counties provides an array of services.
To report suspected child physical or sexual abuse, call PA 211 or ChildLine 1-800-932-0313. All calls are anonymous.