AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – A Warrenville man is facing several charges following allegations of multiple sex crimes involving a child.
“I know there’s a lot of fear around it because are afraid of being wrong but it’s really up to us to help protect our children,” Executive Director of the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County Susan Meehan told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk. “I know there is a lot of fear around it because people are afraid of being wrong,” she added.
Meehan’s organization has helped some of the area’s most vulnerable victims. She says that while the signs of abuse aren’t always obvious, you may notice behavioral or physical changes that could signal a problem.
“Their behaviors can go from a wide rage of depression, anxiety. fear of being touched, fear of not waiting to be with someone or go somewhere. It’s not always the child that is constantly acting out. sometimes its the child who is quiet and trying to be perfect because of what’s going on,” she said.
Child sexual abuse crimes are often under-reported. Suspects use bribes and/or threats to keep a child from telling what’s happening with them. Sometimes it’s just fearful for a child to tell because they may have heard that you shouldn’t let anyone touch them. They are afraid now to tell because they’ve been told not to.
So when should we have conversations with our children about sexual abuse or the birds and the bees? Meehan says the younger the better.
“If I can get more parents to use the proper terminology all the way down to when they are young toddlers and you start talking about using the proper terms for their body’s like an arm and an elbow. And as we start talking with our kids as they get a little bit older about secrets and surprises. A birthday party is a surprise, it doesn’t need to be a secret. Secrets are things that we are keeping from people,” she shared.
Reporting a crime like this may not be easy but it’s important to follow through to help protect the victim.
“It’s not the person reporting the crime’s jobs to determine if there is enough evidence to follow through with an investigation that is whoever is taking the report down. It’s their job to determine if there is enough evidence.”
If you live in the Aiken or Barnwell area and need assistance with this process, call the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County at (803) 644-5100. If you live outside the above-listed counties, call the law enforcement agency in your area. If the child is in immediate danger, CALL 911.
To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673)
Other helpful links:
- National Children’s Alliance: http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/
- National Children’s Advocacy Center: http://nationalcac.org/
- SC Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers: http://www.cac-sc.org/
- Darkness to Light: http://www.d2l.org/
- National Child Protection Training Center: http://www.ncptc.org/
- Childhelp USA: http://www.childhelp.org/
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network: http://www.nctsnet.org/
- Helpguide.org: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/child_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm
- National Center for Victims of Crime: http://www.ncvc.org/