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Child abuse center notes increase in cases

Officials interview record number of young victims
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Officials at a Placer child abuse interview center noted a record number of cases coming through their doors for 2008 and report that number is growing. The Multidisciplinary Interview Center moved into the Placer County District Attorney’s Office’s new building in the Bill Santucci Justice Center in January. The new location is helping the center service a growing population impacted by child abuse countywide, according to a statement released Monday by public information officer Art Campos. The center includes trained professionals who interview child victims of sexual abuse or other felony maltreatment. “Before, we operated in a small caretaker’s house at the DeWitt Center,” Fiona Tuttle, center coordinator, said. “Our offices at the Santucci Center are much roomier and are connected with the D.A.’s Office. This is a much more professional feel.” The move means that the center’s two permanent staff members will be commuting to Roseville, according to Campos. In the past three years, the center has interviewed 430 children, including a record number 160 in 2008. In 2000, MDIC interviewed 94 children. In Placer County, the center and KidsFirst, formerly the Child Abuse Prevention Council Placer, are trying to provide more services for children. Also, in light of April as National Child Abuse Prevention month, the center wants to raise awareness of the problem and resources that can help those impacted. “We’re in the process of linking our client families directly from the interviews to other services being offered,” Kathleen Shenk, KidsFirst deputy director, said. “We’re trying to make sure children and their families receive support at a very difficult time.” The center was created in 1992 and teamed with the District Attorney, law enforcement agencies, the prevention council, Placer County Child Protective Services and other related agencies to investigate cases in which sexual abuse against children was alleged. Victims have ranged from 2 to 18 years old. In its new office in Roseville, the center features a family waiting area, a victim’s service area, two interview rooms and two conference rooms. Such items as dolls, toys and coloring books are made available so that children can feel comfortable. “We try to put the children at ease because kids don’t really like talking about abuse,” Tuttle said. “There are some very private and horrible things that they have to verbalize.” In some cases, the children may choose to demonstrate the sexual abuse they have suffered by using dolls or drawing pictures. Evidence from these interviews has enabled the District Attorney’s Office to proceed with prosecution in many cases of abuse. “The District Attorney’s Office puts a real value in the child victims,” Tuttle said. “The children are such a vulnerable group.” — Staff report ---------- The Multidisciplinary Interview Center includes trained professionals who interview child victims of sexual abuse or other felony maltreatment. In 2008, the center interviewed a record number of children. Here is a break down of the number of interviews they’ve conducted in the past four years. — 160 in 2008 — 117 in 2007 — 153 in 2006 — 106 in 2005 - 94 in 2000 ----------