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Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County. P.O. Box 1763 Aiken , South Carolina 29802 ( 803) 644-5100. Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County. The Scope of the Problem.

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Child advocacy center of aiken county

Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County

P.O. Box 1763

Aiken, South Carolina 29802

(803) 644-5100

The scope of the problem
The Scope of the Problem

  • According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) an estimated 905,000 children in the United States were victims of child abuse or neglect in 2006.

    • 1,530 children died as a result of abuse or neglect in 2006.

The scope of the problem1
The Scope of the Problem

  • 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse by the age of 18 (Deblinger & Heflin, 1996).

  • Many children do not tell anyone about their sexual abuse (London, Bruck, Ceci, & Shuman, 2005).

    • If they do disclose, children rarely lie about sexual abuse.

  • Aiken County ranks #1 in South Carolina in terms of incidents of sexual violence against children.

The scope of the problem2
The Scope of the Problem

  • On average, 90% of child victims know their sexual abusers (USDHHS, 2006).

Who we are
Who We Are

  • We are a 501(c)(3), therefore we rely on grants and private donations.

    • We do receive some reimbursement for forensic interviews and medical exams through South Carolina Office of Victim’s Assistance (SOVA).

  • We are nationally accredited by the National Children’s Alliance, which is the national accrediting agency for CAC’s.

  • We are a collaborative of over a dozen public and private agencies that serve abused children.

Our history
Our History

  • There are 18 CAC’s in South Carolina.

    • The Aiken County CAC is the 17th and was not established until 2005.

  • Prior to the center:

    • Children had to be transported to Columbia or Charleston

    • Children had to be transported for both the forensic interview and the medical exam

    • Children had a lengthy wait for both of these (usually several weeks)

    • Children were also seen at the ER

      • The ER is a poor environment for disclosure and not appropriate for examination of chronic sexual abuse.

Our staff
Our Staff

  • Executive Director: Gayle Lofgren, LMSW

  • Program Coordinator: Anne Laver

  • Clinical Coordinator: Mary Helen Simons, LMSW

  • Office Manager: Arimenta Greene

  • Master’s Level Intern (USCA): Ashley Miller

  • Julie Kappes, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Our mission
Our Mission

  • The mission of the CAC is to protect children by providing on-site agency collaboration and the use of the multi-disciplinary team approach in:

    • prevention

    • investigation

    • assessment

    • referral for prosecution

    • treatment of child sexual abuse

  • To be able to conduct child-friendly criminal investigations.

What we do
What We Do

  • We provide forensic interviews. These interviews follow a protocol entitled “Child First” formerly known as “Finding Words”.

  • We provide medical exams. These exams allow us to ensure the safety of children.

  • We provide therapy for child victims and their non-offending family members.

  • We provide case management by bringing all parties involved together through Multi-Disciplinary Team meetings. Agencies involved are Law Enforcement, DSS, DJJ, Mental Health Providers, Solicitor’s Office, and the School District.

Who we serve
Who We Serve

Children who have been sexually/physically abused in Aiken, Edgefield, and Barnwell counties referred by law enforcement and DSS.

Who we serve1
Who We Serve

  • Children ages 2-17

Who we serve2
Who We Serve

  • Children from different ethnic backgrounds:

Forensic interviews
Forensic Interviews

  • The goal of the center is to conduct one interview early in the case. This reduces the number of times the child has to repeat his or her story.

  • The interview is recorded live with law enforcement and DSS watching the DVD.

    • DVD can be used in court with children under the age of 12.

  • Use “Child First” Protocol

    • Used nationwide

    • Careful not to lead child

    • Use of anatomical dolls and drawings

      • Very important as it does not introduce fantasy

Forensic medical exams
Forensic Medical Exams

  • Medical exams are conducted by a medical provider and trained in physical and sexual abuse examinations.

  • Provides exams for chronic sexual abuse which is 95% of cases. (ER is only set up to do an exam on acute sexual abuse which is those incidents that occurred within the previous 72 hours).

  • Very little physical evidence is found in medical exams.

    • A study by Heger et al. (2002) reported that out of 2384 children reporting abuse, 95.6% had a normal medical exam.

    • The same study showed that of those with abnormal medical exams, only 8% were diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases and/or acute or healed genital injuries.

Forensic medical exams1
Forensic Medical Exams

  • Although most children reporting sexual abuse may have normal medical exams, medical exams are still important to conduct.

  • The purpose of the medical exam is to:

    • Ensure the health and safety of the child

    • Identify and provide treatment for any medical conditions related to the abuse

    • Provide comfort and reassurance to the child and non-offending family members

    • Document forensically significant findings

Therapeutic intervention
Therapeutic Intervention

  • Therapy is provided for children who have had a forensic interview at the center and have made a disclosure of abuse.

  • Therapy will be provided by or supervised by a licensed professional counselor with training in trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy.

  • Therapy is never provided by the same person who conducted the forensic interview.

Multi disciplinary team
Multi-Disciplinary Team

  • Many agencies participate including:

    • Law enforcement

    • Guardian ad Litem

    • Mental Health Providers: Cumbee Center, Children’s Place, Aiken Barnwell Mental Health

    • Solicitor’s office

    • School district

    • Department of Social Services (DSS)

    • Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)

  • Team makes recommendations for action including prosecution of perpetrators, decisions regarding the child’s home and family situations, and mental health referrals.

What you can do
What You Can Do

  • Listen to children and educate yourself about abuse.

  • Make reports of abuse to law enforcement and/or DSS.

    • If a child discloses to you, it is important to make a report and allow these agencies to determine the validity of the allegations.

  • Make donations to or volunteer at agencies assisting abused children.


  • Deblinger, E., & Heflin, A. H. (1996). Treating Sexually Abused Children and Their Nonoffending Parents: A Cognitive Behavioral Approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  • Heger, A., Ticson, L., Velasquez, O., & Bernier, R. (2002). Children referred for possible sexual abuse: Medical findings in 2384 children. Child Abuse and Neglect, 26, 645-659.

  • London, K., Bruck, M., Ceci, S. J., & Shuman, D. W. (2005). Disclosure of child sexual abuse: What does the research tell us about the ways that children tell? Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11(1), 194-226.

  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). Child Maltreatment 2006. Accessed on December 02, 2008, retrieved from: systemwide/statistics/ can.cfm