Top Stories Child First Program teaches officials how to communicate with child victims of sex abuse

Last year, State Police say they investigated almost 1,500 child sex abuses in Pennsylvania. For those young victims involved, being interviewed during an investigation can be difficult.

It’s called the Child-First Program. It’s a class for those who deal with children, who are victims of crimes, and how to effectively communicate with them. Investigators and detectives were in a Derry Township classroom on Thursday, to learn how to best communicate with children, who are victims of heinous crimes.

Adams County District Attorney, Shawn Wagner says first responders are important in situations like these. “In child sexual abuse cases the first response is by far the most important one that we need, to see a crime.”

Some officials say child sex abuse crimes aren’t spoken of much. “For whatever reason, society seems to look the other way, want to ignore, or can’t believe these activities are taking place. They’re goal (investigators) is to provide services for healing and justice to the victims and holding the offenders accountable.” Said Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan.

Wagner says helping the child have a normal childhood, is important. “Our ultimate goal is to allow a child to become a child again, when they’re the victim of child abuse.”

State Police, District Attorneys and other officials say this is designed to stregthen investigations and prosecute child abuse.
“Child abuse prosecutions are tough prosecutions, but of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania, only 20 have children advocacy centers, including Dauphin, Lancaster and York Counties.” Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico explained.

Those centers, provide healing for victims and a commonplace between them and doctors, nurses, and police.

Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick, III says each county needs to have resources for the children. “There needs to be a dedicated revenue source to find child advocacy centers throughout PA.”

Hartwick says that funding should come from outside of fundraisers.

There is a bill in the house now, that if its passed, it would make those charged with crimes against children pay a fine and that money would go to child advocacy centers.

Reported by: Kyle Rogers
Contributor: Rachel Snody

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