At the end of its 2018 fiscal year, the Fannin County Children’s Center says the rate of abuse cases around the county has more than doubled from the year before. So has the number of forensic interviews conducted.
According to the FCCC, the Children’s Advocacy Center "received 266 new referrals in the fiscal year ending August 31, 2018. This was a 116 percent increase over the previous year. The CAC staff also conducted 240 forensic interviews in the same year, which was a 124 percent increase over the previous year when 107 interviews were done.
But Sandy Barber, executive director of the FCCC, says the spike is likely not due to more abused children.
"What is happening is that twice as many cases are getting reported," she says. "So in that regard, maybe this is a good thing."
Barber says the rise in reported child abuse cases means better awareness of what constitutes child abuse.
"I think there’s been a lot of cases over the last year with the whole #MeToo movement," she says, "that in a lot of cases, you look back on it – people told people a long time ago, but then nobody reported it to the authorities."
While Barber says the ultimate goal would of course be no abused children, she’s glad to know people are taking the issue more seriously. And that they’re speaking up about it.
"Now we’re getting upset with all those people that knew something but didn’t report," she says. "And so perhaps maybe the lesson being learned is, you know, when you hear about something, you do need to report it to the authorities to let them investigate. I hope that's the lesson."
From the Fannin County Children’s Center report:
Children’s Advocacy Center therapists provided 959 counseling sessions, which was only slightly more than the previous year. Another notable increase was the number of special medical exams completed. Sexual abuse victims must travel to neighboring counties for these exams and last year 25 were completed, which was more than double the previous year when only 11 exams were completed.
CASA served 131 children in the past year, which marked the second year in a row for this program to set a new record for the number of children served. Overall, CASA has served 58% more children over the past two years. In the past year, CASA attended 275 court hearings, 8 family group conferences, 43 permanency conferences and 26 mediations. CASA volunteers logged in 5,744 hours and more than 47,000 miles in their advocacy for the 131 children. Volunteer hours have increased 79% over the past two years.