Roanoke Valley sees increased child abuse cases - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Roanoke Valley Children's Advocacy Center sees increased child abuse cases

ROANOKE, VA -

Roanoke County Police say over the past five years, they have seen an increase in the number of cases of suspected abuse being reported to authorities.

A new grant from the Junior League of the Roanoke Valley is making a difference for victims of child abuse.

The Children's Advocacy Center has seen an increased case load and money from the women's organization will enable them to hire more staff and in turn help more children.

Christina Rouse is a forensic interviewer at the Children's Advocacy Center. She talks to possible victims of child abuse in a comfortable, safe environment.

"They talk about their trauma to us in detail, specific detail as much as they are able to and so hearing that every day, day in day out, it does take a toll" said Rouse. "There are days you get frustrated and angry and are astonished that things like this happen in your community."

Here are the facts: Since the Roanoke center opened in 2005 they've seen a 30% increase in cases every year. In 2012 that number jumped to a 60% increase or 220 cases. The case load has increased so much they need a second interviewer.

"The quicker we can see the kids, the more valid the information they have, the more reliable the information is and so to have a second interviewer will allow us to respond more effectively" said Rouse.

Rouse interviews the child alone in a room. Around the corner, police are watching, getting information for their investigation.

"That becomes part of the case file and part of their evidence for their investigation and really the jumping off point for the continuation of the investigation" said Janice Dinkins-Davidson, the Children's Trust executive director. "Largely what we see is sexual abuse."

She says they're seeing an increase in multiple victim cases and community awareness.

"We are more protective of our kids than we've ever been before. We're not letting it stay in the dark corners where it's been in the past" said Dinkins-Davidson.

"When a child says ‘thank you for talking to me' or ‘thank you for helping me' that's all you need because you know you're making a difference in that child's life" said Rouse.

The Children's Advocacy Center is currently looking for a second forensic interviewer.  Currently, they serve Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Salem and Vinton but when asked they also help with cases from Botetourt, Alleghany and Craig Counties.

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