The CAC is a child-friendly interview center located at 26 Seminary Ave, Auburn, NY. Children of all ages come here to speak with a specially trained interviewer about allegations of child abuse. The Child Advocacy process involves a team of professionals from multiple agencies such as law enforcement, social services, District or county attorney, etc. When you and your child arrive, you will wait in the family room. A play area for children is also provided. A separate interview room is designed to make your child feel comfortable. The room is occupied by your child and the interviewer only. The interview room has a small bubble, which is the video camera) in the corner of the room. Your child’s interview will be observed by an investigative team from another room.
What do I tell my child about the CAC interview?
You might tell your child, “You and I are going to go to the Child Advocacy Initiative. It is a special place where kids go to talk. The person you will be talking to talks to lots of kids about what happens to them. They need to know everything that you remember so that we can make sure you are safe and okay. It is important that you tell the truth and only talk about what really happened. It is okay for you to talk to them. YOU ARE NOT IN ANY TROUBLE.”
Who will my child talk to?
Your child will talk to a Forensic Interviewer. The Interviewer has special training and experience in talking with children about difficult subjects. The Interviewer’s goal is to make your child as comfortable as possible while gathering the necessary information for the investigation. Questions are asked in a non-threatening and non-leading manner. The Interviewer moves at a pace that is comfortable for your child and never forces a child to talk.
Can I watch the interview?
No, only those people who are directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. This is done to reduce the possible stress that can be placed on a child and to provide a neutral setting for the child and the investigation. Please bring a support person to wait with you during this time. If you bring more than one child, they will stay with you at all times during the interview. Before and after the interview, you will have an opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns with the investigative team members. If you need support from CAC staff during the interview, that can be arranged.
Will my child need a medical exam?
The investigative team members will decide if your child needs a medical exam. If one is needed, law enforcement will contact a specially trained medical person to set an appointment. The examination will not cost you any money and will be paid for by the New York State Crime Victims Board. You might tell your child, “We are going to see a nurse or doctor who takes care of kids. You will not get any shots. The nurse/doctor is not going to hurt you. He/She just needs to make sure that your body is okay.” When the examination is over, the nurse/doctor will be able to tell you in general terms what he/she learned.
Can I talk to my child about what happened?
No, not unless your child brings up the subject and wants to talk about it. In that case, listen to your child without commenting, questioning, or judging. Be sure to reassure your child that he/she will be all right. If your child tells you something that alarms or upsets you, contact the CAC Advocate.
What happens after the interview?
You will be able to talk to a member of the investigative team. They will tell you in general terms what they learned from the interview. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and voice your concerns. When the team is finished with their investigation, they will send the reports to the Prosecutor’s office. The Prosecutor, not the child, parent, or CAC, will decide whether or not to prosecute. The prosecutor will, of course, be looking for your input in this regard. Your child may eventually have to go to court to testify. If this happens, the prosecutor and/or the CAC Advocate can meet with your child to prepare him/her.
Should I get counseling for my child?
Yes. Children may be uncomfortable discussing the abuse with their parents because of shame, embarrassment, or guilt. Children dislike seeing their parents upset or angry. Therefore, they may try to protect their parents by not telling them about the abuse. Children may interpret a parent’s negative emotions with the situation as negative feelings toward the child. Reassure your child that you are not upset with them, rather that you are upset with the situation. For the above reasons, it is important to give your child the opportunity to talk with a professional. Children have different needs that must be addressed from the incident to recovery. Should negative emotions and reactions to the abuse remain untreated, or if the child cannot properly express discomfort, a child will only experience greater suffering and trauma. SAVAR (Sexual Assault Victim Advocates Resources) therapists can apply their special training, knowledge, and experience to help ensure that your child recovers as quickly as possible. Family counseling is also a valuable tool in the road to recovery. Allowing your child to talk to a professional child therapist is a positive step toward healing.