In 2009, NYSCASA published a White Paper on Pediatric Sexual Assault and Abuse in New York State. This White Paper takes an extensive look at how pediatric sexual assault services are delivered in New York State and in other states and makes recommendations for a variety of model practices. These practices will ensure that children receive better care after a sexual assault and that this care is standardized throughout New York State.
Sexual assault puts a child at risk of life-long health and mental health problems, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, prostitution and homelessness. Violent prisoners in jails were often abused or neglected as children. We can reduce lifelong impacts, interrupt generational cycles of violence and increase the successful prosecution of perpetrators with improved collection of DNA evidence if we address the needs for clear leadership, systemic data collection, and specialized training as identified in this report.
The primary author of this report is Dee Krebs, a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner presently working in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York.
Excerpt from the Executive Summary:
In 2006 in New York State 76,590 children were abused or neglected & 3.4% were sexually abused. Seventy-five of those children died as a result.
Child sexual assault or abuse is a serious crime. In a survey sent to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, Child Advocacy Centers/MDT and Emergency Rooms, an alarming 72% of New York State respondents reported that they were “not satisfied” with the care received by children in their county when child abuse is suspected (Sealing, 2007). Caring for children of sexual assault/abuse is inadequate within our current system. It is a serious public health problem in New York State, and it is imperative that policymakers recognize the seriousness of pediatric sexual assault/abuse. In all urgency, it must be brought to the head of the list for policymakers to reduce or eliminate its impact on potential victims.
New York State does not have a state funded program to care for victims of child sexual assault/abuse, such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Texas. Many organizations take part in pediatric care, but no one organization has been identified to take the lead. Nothing is continuously funded, and there is no coordinated oversight. Children need their own leadership (Botash, personal communication, February, 2009).
Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) focus on coordinated investigation to provide the pediatric population with professionals specialized in caring for children. This is fostered by the coordination of services in a child-comfort atmosphere using a multidisciplinary team (MDT). New legislation mandates the MDT to be present at the intake of a child, which at a minimum includes: Child Protective Service (CPS), law enforcement, a district attorney, a victim advocate, and a mental health specialist. The medical component is a standard and it is approved and accredited. The goal is to have teams available for the child and family at the same time and place.