Frequently Asked Questions
The Child Center, Inc. interviews children & teens ages 3-17 and vulnerable adults who report sexual or physical abuse or witness a crime. The goal is to reduce a victim’s trauma by avoiding multiple interviews by several different investigating agencies.
Click here to view what a child sees at our Wentzville location.
Prior to the existence of Child Advocacy Centers, children were frequently further traumatized due to multiple interviews by several different investigating agencies. Today, it is the goal of investigators to lessen a child’s trauma by having only one full interview conducted. The Child Center, Inc. is a designated facility that provides that service to investigating teams. The Child Center, Inc. staff members are specially trained to interview victims of abuse and to sensitively gather all of the necessary information so investigators can complete their investigations successfully. It is important to remember that your child is being interviewed, not interrogated. Your child is the victim and they are not in trouble. This is your child’s opportunity to share their victimization, in their own words, in a child-friendly setting.
Child abuse investigations are conducted through a multidisciplinary team approach. The team members include representatives from law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office, Missouri Children’s Division, medical personnel, mental health therapists, juvenile officers, and advocates.
Your child will speak one-on-one with an interviewer from The Child Center, Inc. Members of the multidisciplinary team will not be in the same room with your child, but will observe the interview from a separate observation room. The interviewer is the only person that will be talking to your child. In order to preserve a child’s statement, all interviews conducted at the center are recorded onto a DVD. Most children over the age of 5 are made aware that their conversation is being recorded. The interview process can take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour. The length of the interview depends on how much your child wants to say. After your child’s interview is completed, he/she will return to the lobby with you.
Parents are not allowed to view the interview because of the possible stress it can place on the child and the fact that this is an official investigation. However, after the interview has been completed, you (the parent/guardian) will be brought back to meet the team members, find out how things went, ask questions and discuss what the next steps are in the investigation.
The videotaped interview does not replace testifying in court, but can often shorten the length of time that younger children are on the stand. If it becomes necessary for a child to testify, The Child Center, Inc. advocates and/or Victim Services personnel of the prosecutor’s office will work together to ensure that the child and family receive the support they need throughout the legal process.
All actions taken by the multidisciplinary team reflect our concern to act in the best interests of your child.
Counseling can help ensure that your child recovers as quickly as possible without experiencing greater suffering. Also, parents and families have their own issues to deal with when confronted with the abuse of a loved one (shame, guilt, anger, victimization); counseling can assist parents and family members with these issues.
As parents and caregivers, you are the first to notice changes in your child’s behavior. Always reinforce to your child that the abuse was not their fault.
- Keep Calm. Your child may sense the emotional stress and anger you may be feeling about what has happened to him/her. This may cause a child to feel responsible for upsetting you and may cause them to wish they had never disclosed.
- Use comforting statements such as “I’m proud of you for telling” or “What happened to you wasn’t your fault”.
- Listen to your child if they feel like talking, but do not let your desire to make sense of what has happened lead you into probing questions about details of the abuse. Sometimes children won’t give details or will feel so pressured they decide to “forget” the whole thing or suddenly “cannot remember” the incident.
- Do not make any promises about what will happen to the offender or promise that the child will never have to see the offender again. It may not be true (e.g. court proceedings). Your child needs to trust your word. It is better to tell a child that you don’t know the answer to a question.
Report Child Abuse
If you suspect child abuse, call the Missouri Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-392-3738
If you are calling from out-of-state: 573-751-3448