Recently, over 3.5 million children are subject to at least one report of child maltreatment. Today, one in five girls and one in ten boys are sexually abused in America before they graduate from high school.
Being a victim of abuse or neglect has often meant the victim and family had to visit multiple locations while seeking medical care and being participants in a police investigation. This can increase the stress on an already traumatized child by requiring the child to repeat his or her story several times.
Now, there's a safe, child-friendly place where specialized medical care and mental health services are available in one facility. Mayo Clinic, working closely with county governments and Youth Services, has opened a new child and family advocacy center in Rochester.
The center is a resource for the entire Mayo Clinic Health System and for communities throughout the region. It's a unique facility-based program where teams of professionals, including health care, law enforcement and child protection and victim advocates work together under one roof. The center specializes in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of child abuse. Specialists conduct assessments, medical examinations, and support a variety of treatment options.
After the initial meeting with a consultation team to discuss your case, your child will be taken to especially designed room to talk. A professional, well-trained interviewer will talk to your child in a safe, non-threatening manner. The interview lasting 20 to 90 minutes is confidential and digitally recorded. Its design and structure to encourage your child to talk.
While your child is being interviewed, you will meet with a victim advocate, mental health provider. The victim advocate will assist you with safety planning and help you understand the investigative process. She'll ask you about how you're handling the situation and refer you to community resources you may need. A mental health provider will support you and your child during the entire process. She'll give you details about how abuse may affect your child and family, and she'll gather information about any concerns you may have regarding your child's mental health.
After the interview, you and your child will go to an exam room. Your child may undergo a physical exam to ensure his or her health and well-being. You will meet with all the team members and you'll be given information about your child's interview and medical exam. And then the team will make recommendations about your next step, including any follow up appointments. You'll also have time to ask them questions. The team will contact you for any further information and assist you throughout the ongoing process. Child protection and law enforcement will also continue to work with you to address your safety concerns.
The most important thing to remember is you don't have to go through this difficult process alone. The center is a regional resource where you and your child can receive professional confidential help.