The Times West Virginian

December 4, 2012

Safe environment

Child Advocacy Center helps victims of abuse

By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Childhood trauma is a serious issue that researchers are only beginning to understand.

Recent studies indicate that kids exposed to traumatic incidents during their formative years have a more difficult time as they grow up, from experiencing poorer health to their peers to duplicating the behavior that hurt them as a child.

It’s difficult to completely prevent abuse from happening, but organizations like the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in Fairmont, a United Way of Marion County member agency, work to make sure victims see justice without having to relive the event over and over in the telling.

Mike Baker, director of the center, said it’s difficult to hear the stories kids tell, but it’s rewarding to be able to get them the help they need.

“It’s an ugly business that we do, but I wouldn’t ever want to go back to the days before we had a Child Advocacy Center,” he said.

The CAC performs forensic interviews with children who may be victims of abuse. Kids are referred to the center by police, the prosecutor’s office and Child Protective Services when there is a suspicion of abuse taking place.

“We provide a safe, child-focused, family-friendly environment where they can tell their story,” Baker said.

The center employs an interviewer trained in working with children, and interviews are conducted away from the business parts of the center.


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