Record number of child abuse referrals at Spartanburg Children’s Advocacy Center

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – If walls could talk, the ones at the Children’s Advocacy Center could tell stories of kids devastated by abuse.

“Having a little girl ask, am I still a virgin? Is anybody going to want to marry me after what’s happened?”

Executive Director Suzy Cole said in 2015, they saw a record number of child abuse referrals and are on track for another record this year.

“We want them to learn that what happens to them happens to lots of kids. They’re going to be okay, they’re not damaged. This wasn’t their fault.”

“What we think it means is we’re doing a better job in this community of reporting abuse to authorities.”

She says a study revealed thousands of South Carolina professionals felt they did not get adequate training in the past.

“Our law enforcement folks are better trained on what to look for child abuse. Also, our teachers are better trained than they’ve ever been before.”

She also says the passing of Erin’s Law is  bringing the lesson of sex abuse into the classroom.

“It’s a law that requires child sexual abuse prevention education in our schools, so all kids K through 12 will have an age appropriate lesson about touching,” she said. “I spoke to one child in the lobby one morning. She said well we heard at school about a little girl who told about some touching that was happening to her and it made things better for her so I thought I would tell.”

She says more referrals mean more opportunities to start helping these kids piece their lives together through therapy.

“A lot of times you can see the hope that is come through in those drawings from being in a dark place to much brighter, more hopeful place.”

The Children’s Advocacy Center serves Spartanburg, Cherokee, and Union counties.

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