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Helping Abused Youth at the Child Advocacy Center, 20 Years and Counting

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Morgan Austin
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KSMU News

Since opening its doors in 1995, the Child Advocacy Center has helped thousands of children cope with any abuse or trauma that they’ve endured. Last year alone, 1,351 children were helped by the organization seeking to eradicate the child abuse issue in the Ozarks area.

The center’s work will be commemorated during the week of September 21st.

Barb Brown Johnson, CAC’s executive director, says the events are to honor both the brave children who have told their stories in the hopes of ending their suffering and the founders who had the drive to create a safe place for hurting children.

“Even though the subject of child abuse is sad and dark, we have so much to celebrate with regards to the CAC helping children feel safe and allowing them to leave that darkness and begin to heal,” Johnson said in a statement about the upcoming mile stone.

Founded by a small group of concerned professionals and community leaders, the advocacy center vowed to create a sensitive, safe, and comforting place where abused children could feel safe to share their distressing experiences.

“We serve to make the investigative process a child friendly experience for the child. We meet the child on their level where they can better share what has happened to them,” says Linda Regan, development director for CAC, when talking with KSMU news.

The organization added a location in West Plains in 2011, helping to broaden its service area to a 16-county radius. Regan says that their Springfield office is the busiest when it comes to serving local children. One of fifteen offices in Missouri, the Springfield location has served more than 1,000 children annually for the past seven years.

“At the beginning of the year, we had already served collectively more than 15,000 children in our 20 year history, and we’ve now past the 16,000 number,” Regan says about the center’s past service.

Although CAC is working to counter-act child abuse and help those who have been affected, challenges still remain. Some of the most important tools to overcome those challenges are education and identification of the issue. Regan says that when the child advocacy model was introduced nationwide, about 20 years ago, our society agreed that it was no longer okay to look away from child abuse. Despite this admission, the problem still occurs on a massive scale. CAC and other advocacy centers work to change this by letting people know that it’s okay to talk about this issue and that doing so will help to end abuse.

For more information on the Child Advocacy Center or how you can help, visit their website at childadvacocycenter.org.

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