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The Child Abuse Team at Cincinnati Children’s provides the following frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers.
Contact the child welfare agency or police in the jurisdiction where you live or where the incident occurred or both.
The child welfare agency and the police are required to do an investigation and assessment within a given time frame, with response times that range from hours to days depending on the severity of the case.
In most cases, no. Only a small minority of cases go to trial. Child abuse cases frequently are plea bargained, which means the child won’t need to testify in court, though he or she may still be interviewed by police, prosecutors and attorneys. When children are needed for testimony, many communities have victim advocate programs that help them through the process and relieve stress. Sometimes, adults may be permitted to testify to what children have said regarding an incident, or videotaped testimony or depositions may be permitted.
With proper support from parents and caregivers and professional counseling, it is possible for children to get over sexual or physical abuse and live normal, healthy lives. Children who have the best prognosis are those who have good relationships with parents and receive professional counseling. It also helps for children to receive counseling “booster shots.” This can help children deal mentally and emotionally with the abuse at various stages of development.
Yes, at least in some cases. But it’s by no means easy. Overcoming perpetrators’ denial and helping them learn empathy toward their victims are key issues for counseling. Counseling is more likely to succeed with perpetrators of physical abuse than sexual abuse. Sexual abuse often goes on a long time, becomes a pattern, and coexists with other issues, such as domestic violence, poverty or mental illness. The psychological problems that lead to someone committing sexual abuse are complex and difficult to overcome.
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