Advocates Open Medical Exam Room for Child Abuse Victims

CONWAY, AR–Children who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse are getting the help they need, in an uniquely sensitive way.

Often when there is a suspected child abuse case children are taken to a child advocacy center to be interviewed, examined and hopefully placed on a path to a safer environment. In Conway advocates are partnering with the community to help kids faster.

“It is going up, we had 220 children come through last year and we have well surpassed that,” CAC Executive Director Tess Fletcher says, describing the rising number of child abuse cases coming through her office.

Advocates are hoping the center’s newest addition, a new medical examination room, can make a huge difference. Forensic interviewer Mindy Scales says the new space will cut down of the number of times kids have to share their stories, which can be extremely traumatic.

“Things that stick with me are kids that have a hard time talking about what happened to them because they’re afraid of what’s going to happen to somebody else, they don’t want that person to get in trouble,” says Scales.

In the past, alleged victims would be interviewed at the Conway center, then put on the road to Little Rock to be examined at Children’s Hospital. To help, donors helped purchase examination and telemedicine equipment.

“They won’t have to go to another hospital and wait hours and hours they won’t have to tell story to another person,” says Scales.

They hope making it easier for children to share will also help advocates overcome one of their biggest obstacles.

Fletcher says, “One of the biggest challenges is educating the community and helping people understand this happens to their neighbors, to kids who go to school with their children, I think most don’t get how far it goes.”

The Conway Regional Health Foundation helped purchase the $18,000 colposcope that allowed the center to open the new exam room.

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