March 2012 

Legislative Update

At BCAC, we not only advocate for children in the immediate hours after abuse is reported, but we also advocate on their behalf before lawmakers in Annapolis and Washington, DC. With the Maryland legislative session well underway, representatives from BCAC have been asked to testify several times on bills which address the issue of mandatory reporting of abuse and providing required education for Maryland's teachers so that this largest group of reporters knows how to identify and report abuse. Despite Maryland having a law that all citizens are mandatory reporters of abuse (Do you know how to report abuse?  Click here), we are only one of three states that does not have a penalty for the failure to report. BCAC Executive Director Adam Rosenberg has testified a number of times, advocating for some penalty so that those who egregiously fail to report can be penalized. Educators need to be armed with knowledge, so when they discover abuse, they can appropriately respond. According to a 2001 study, when presented with hypothetical situations of abuse, only 26% of teachers said they would report it. We can do better. 

On the national front, federal funding for all child advocacy centers (CAC) was excluded from the President's proposed FY13 budget. More than 260,000 children, 700 CACs, and thousands of police officers, child protection workers, doctors, and prosecutors rely upon this line of funding in their work to keep kids safe. Cuts would lead to the closing of many agencies and a lack of training and oversight of these professionals. But here in Baltimore we decided we wouldn't let that happen. Many of you joined us in calling your representatives and senators and urged them to sign letters requesting these funds be restored in the budget. We have added #SAVECACS to our Twitter feed and dozens of other CACs and advocates have done the same to build momentum and help these kids today. 

These fights on behalf of our kids continue and you can help. Visit our advocate page to get active and do something today.    

Volunteer Corner

Volunteers Needed!

On Sunday, May 20, volunteers are needed to help run BCAC’s Spring Festival at Quarry Lake at Greenspring.  Various shifts throughout the day are available.  Click here for more information on how you can help.

Interested in training others on how to prevent child sexual abuse?  If so, send our Prevention Team an e-mail for more information.

 

Click here for general information about volunteering.

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Kavanagh

Mary is one of our weekly volunteers at Baltimore Child Abuse Center.  Thanks Mary!

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Why do you volunteer? I believe that although we are all individuals, we are all connected, and by helping others, we, therefore, are helping ourselves...our collective self.  Second, I feel energized when I've made life easier for someone else, especially when it means helping someone to not feel isolated, overwhelmed, or rejected.

 

Why do you volunteer at Baltimore Child Abuse Center? When I had mentioned to professional colleagues that I would like to investigate moving into the non-profit sector for my career, the words "Adam Rosenberg," "Executive Director of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center," and "great guy" kept coming up in conversations. So I contacted Adam to see if he could share with me his insights into the non-profit world.  He was generous enough to answer all of my questions and show me around BCAC.  I fell in love with the cheery atmosphere created for the children and their families and respected the critical help the BCAC staff provides.  I wanted to be a part of it all.

 

What do you like about volunteering at Baltimore Child Abuse Center?  My role is to keep the children engaged and playing as BCAC professionals conduct informational interviews with their caretakers. I enjoy their happiness when they get to tell me all about themselves for as long as they want-with no interruptions; or their smiles of delight as I enjoy the pretend dinner they created  in the play kitchen; or their proud displays of rainbow ponies and other imaginative images they've brought to life from the coloring books.  Nothing beats hearing a child say he or she doesn't want to leave the BCAC play area when it's time to go.  It makes me feel that somehow I have contributed to the organization's mission to make the process of reporting sexual abuse as painless as possible.  Older children are served as well. Last week I was privileged to speak with a 17-year-old woman whose strength, personality and intelligence truly amazed me.  One can't help but walk away feeling energized after contributing to this cause.

 

What’s your favorite thing to do in the spring? My favorite thing to do in the spring is to have lunch or just a coffee at an outdoor cafe with a friend(s) while enjoying the sights, sounds and new warmth of the season.  There is something about the clinking of silverware and glasses and the muted rise and fall of mixed conversations that just makes me feel happy. I think it's that concept of "connectedness" coming up again.

 

Tell us one thing about yourself that you’d like other people to know.  I'm addicted to the television show "The Voice", so I am unreachable on Mondays from 8:00 - 10:00 p.m.

 

Prevention Corner

Prevention Update
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month!
Stay tuned for opportunities to raise awareness and prevent child sexual abuse throughout the month of April.  Be part of a grassroots effort to shed light on this national and local epidemic.  Send us an e-mail if you want to be involved.

Prevention Tip
Don't wait for April to prevent abuse!  As your kids start their spring activities and programs, ask your youth-serving organizations how they are screening and training their staff to keep your child safe from abuse.  Want some tips on questions to ask?  Click here.

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Baltimore Child Abuse Center is thrilled to partner with The Family Tree of Maryland on the Enough Abuse Campaign!  Enough Abuse's mission is to prevent child sexual abuse by engaging adults and mobilizing communities in effective prevention efforts at the state and local levels.  Click here for more information.

Stories from the Field

Meet Jane.  She is a teenager and often hides her face with her hair because she feels ugly. 

While Jane's parents had not noticed any particular changes in Jane's behavior over the past few months, he perceived that something was wrong.  They repeatedly urged Jane to tell them what was bothering her and left the lines of communication open, in case she decided
she wanted to talk.  Eventually, their gentle coaxing encouraged her to open up, which brought her to BCAC.

On several occasions Jane found herself alone with her uncle.  Her uncle exposed himself to Jane and demonstrated how he wanted Jane to touch him.  He threatened to kill her and her family if she did not do what he asked.  So, she touched him.

For the past ten years, Jane never told anyone what happened to her because she was afraid that her family friend would hurt her and her family.  Her flashbacks of the abuse became more frequent and haunting and she could no longer keep her secret.  She sometimes thought about hurting herself so that she didn't have to carry this burden any more.

After sharing her story with a forensic interviewer at BCAC, Jane told the interviewer that she felt relieved.  And, as she left the interview, Jane tucked her hair behind her ears.

This is a true story, although we changed Jane's real name to keep her identity confidential.  When Jane reported that she had thought of suicide, the forensic interviewer performed a suicide assessment to insure that Jane was not currently in danger of harming herself.  After the interview, as with all of our interviews, the Family Advocacy Team made referrals for Jane and her family to receive mental health treatment so that they can continue to heal. 

Some take-away lessons are:

  • Pay attention to your gut reactions to your child's moods or actions.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with your child.
  • Talk to your child about saying "no" to unwanted touches and identify a safe adult in whom they can confide.

Multi-Disciplinary Team Spotlight

Baltimore Child Abuse Center works closely with Baltimore City Police, Child Protective Services and the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office to provide a coordinated response to children and families who have reported child sexual abuse.   

Meet Kerry Hannan, Ph. D., Clinical Director at Baltimore Child Abuse Center.

I've been serving as a Clinical Director for the last three years.   In that role, I supervise the Forensic Interview program and I work closely with our multidisciplinary team members.  I'm a clinical psychologist and have been working at Baltimore Child Abuse Center for about 18 years.  I started out as a Forensic Interviewer, and did that for many years.  I loved working directly with the children, who showed such courage and heart in the face of very traumatic situations.  I also loved interacting with the parents, many of whom needed support as they helped their children recover.  I have always felt that my job was incredibly meaningful, and that I could make a difference, however small, in the life of a child.  It's also a challenging job, and I'm always striving to find ways to make things better for our clients and the partners we serve.  In the end, I want to make sure that a child's voice is heard, and that their visit to BCAC makes things just a little bit easier.    

Upcoming Events

BCAC's Spring Festival
Sunday, May 20
11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Quarry Lake at Greenspring
Enjoy a day of fun for the whole family!  Music, games, arts and crafts, and much much more!

BCAC's Annual Meeting
Thursday, June 7
8:30 a.m.
Featured guest is Jayne Miller from WBAL

For more information about our upcoming events, e-mail the Development Department.