A call comes in to the Police Department. A child has been sexually assaulted. The dispatcher sends their officers and then calls the first link in a chain of assistance for this child victim. If the assault is recent (within 72 hours) a multi-disciplinary team leaps into action. For The Child’s trained volunteers answer the call – day or night, 7 days a week. Carrying with them the tools of this trade – information, counseling skills and a bag full of toys and snacks to comfort, entertain and support – they head for the child and the hospital.
The Child Abuse Response Team (CART) provides emotional support and crisis intervention to children when forensic medical exams and law enforcement interviews are necessary. The program utilizes carefully selected community volunteers who receive 40 hours of specialized training to serve as the child’s advocate. Volunteers are supervised by a licensed mental health professional. CART is part of the larger Sexual Assault Response Team, a Greater Long Beach Area multi-disciplinary collaboration of medical and criminal justice professionals that responds to most adult and child sexual assault calls that occur within 72 hours of the crime.
8 year-old Marcus was sexually abused by a 9 year-old in the school bathroom-more than once. His family discovered the abuse after he began soiling himself, something he didn’t usually do. When questioned, he told them what had happened to him. They had called the school principal, who told them to take Marcus to the emergency room. His aunt brought him immediately to the hospital after the phone call.
For The Child’s CART team met Marcus and his aunt at the hospital. The volunteer helped them through the process, gave the aunt referrals for treatment service and gave Marcus a teddy bear to hold onto through the process. He named him “Roger.” “Roger” went home with this young man whose crisis had not ended. He was going to have to return to school after the weekend. The police would be following up with the principal and with the 9 year old offender and his family.
For The Child worked with Marcus, his family and the police to help him feel safe and protected when he returned to school.