INFORMATION & RESOURCES

Despite our best efforts, child abuse continues to occur in Lake & Sumter Counties. The best way to prevent further child abuse is by knowing the signs of child abuse and what programs are available through your CAC. You can also help by sharing this information with others and raising awareness in your community about child abuse.

I can still be a princess - quote from 5 year old child

SIGNS OF CHILD ABUSE

The following is a brief list of the signs of child abuse. Keep in mind that these signs can be subtle.

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Changes in behavior
  • Returning to earlier behaviors
  • Fear of going home
  • Changes in eating
  • Changes in sleeping
  • Changes in school performance and attendance
  • Lack of personal care or hygiene
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviors

If you have questions or concerns about a child in your life, please don't hesistate to contact the CAC at (352)323-8303 or info@cac4kids.org. One of our caring and knowledgeable staff can listen to your concerns and offer guidance on next steps.

MYTHS ABOUT CHILD ABUSE

Myth: Child Abuse is a rare occurrence.
FACT: Statistics indicate that child abuse and neglect occur with frequency. An estimated 3 children nationwide die every day as a result of child abuse and neglect.

Myth: Abused and neglected children almost always come from poor, minority and/or inner-city families.
FACT: There is no evidence that links socio-economic status, race or educational level to abuse and neglect. Child abuse occurs within every neighborhood and school community across the country.

Myth: Sexual assault only happens to girls..
FACT: We may not yet know the full extent of sexual assault against boys because of their tendency to not report. Current research, however, estimates that 1 out of 3-4 girls and 1 out of 4-6 boys will be sexually assaulted before their eighteenth birthday.

Myth: Most children are sexually assaulted by a stranger.
FACT: It is estimated that 80-85% of all child sexual assaults are perpetrated by an adult known and trusted by the child. Only a small percentage of perpetrators are strangers.

Myth: Child abusers are easy to recognize.
FACT: Child abusers cannot be easily distinguished from others. Many offenders are upstanding community citizens.

Myth: Most children who are abused do something to cause the abuse to occur.
The child is ALWAYS the victim. The responsibility for the abuse lies solely with the adult.

This is a place that believes kids - quote from 11 year old child

CASE STUDY

Jasmine is an 11-year-old child who came to our CAC after she talked to her teacher at school about "not feeling good" and "hurting." Note: Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of this child victim.

When Jasmine's comments to her teacher indicated possible sexual abuse, the teacher reported the incident to the Florida Child Abuse Hotline. Jasmine was brought to the CAC by a member of Law Enforcement and a Department of Children and Families Caseworker. She was very quiet and wouldn't speak to anyone at first. One of our Forensic Interviewers spent a lot of time sitting on the floor in the lobby playing with Jasmine before asking her if she would come back to the interview room to talk.

Jasmine finally felt comfortable enough to talk and grabbed the interviewers hand and walked to the interview room with her head hanging low. The interviewer began to ask questions and Jasmine was finally able to disclose that she had been a victim of sexual abuse from her stepfather for a period of 2 years - and no one had believed her - not her sister, not her mother, not her grandmother. Following the interview, Jasmine walked down the hall and received a medical examination from the Nurse Practitioner. It was discovered that there was definite physical evidence of sexual abuse.

When Jasmine walked out of the medical room, we were all rather surprised by the huge smile on her face. She walked over to one of the staff and held up 3 fingers. "Do you see this?" she said, "This is how many people FINALLY believe me." She proceeded to name the 3 staff members she had spoken to at our Center.

The end of this story is that Jasmine's stepfather was arrested and prosecuted. He received a sentence of 20 years in prison. When Jasmine heard what the sentence was, she said, "He's going to jail because this is a place that believes kids."