About Us

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The UF Child Advocacy Center was established to help child victims of abuse and neglect in the counties of Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, Bradford, and Union. Our goal is to achieve better outcomes for victims of suspected child abuse and neglect by collaborating with UF’s Child Protection Team, law enforcement, Department of Children and Families, and medical personnel at a single location.

Why do children need Children’s Advocacy Centers?

An estimated 1,564 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States in 2014, the most recent year for which there is national data. But child abuse fatalities are not the only consequences of abused children suffer. Sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect are forms of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that researchers have linked to mental health problems, such as mood disorders, anxiety, substance abuse, and impulse control disorders. Child abuse often co-occurs with other ACEs, like witness to domestic or community violence, traumatic loss or separation, or sexual assault. Adults with multiple ACES have even been shown to be more likely to endure poor health outcomes like diabetes, STDs, heart disease, and early death.

In short, without intervention, child abuse causes lifelong problems. But Children’s Advocacy Centers help kids by providing them with justice and healing from their abuse in a child-friendly setting they can trust. In addition to helping collect forensic evidence to help law enforcement and CPS protect children from abusers, CACs coordinate a complete response to the needs of a child after abuse. Last year, CACs around the country served more than 311,000 child victims of abuse, providing forensic interviews, evidence-based mental health treatments that are proven to reduce symptoms, case management, victim advocacy services, and more.

The Facts

National Statistics on Child Abuse

In 2015, an estimated 1,670 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States. In 2015, Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country served more than 311,000 child victims of abuse, providing victim advocacy and support to these children and their families.

700,000 Children Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S annually. An estimated 683,000 children (unique incidents) were victims of abuse and neglect in 2015, the most recent year for which there is national data.

3 Million Children CPS protects more than 3 million children. Approximately 3.4 million children received an investigation or alternative response from child protective services agencies. 2.3 million children received prevention services.

Youngest Children The youngest children were most vulnerable to maltreatment. Children in the first year of their life had the highest rate of victimization of 24.2 per 1,000 children in the national population of the same age.

75% Neglect is the most common form of maltreatment. Of the children who experienced maltreatment or abuse, three-quarters suffered neglect; 17.2% suffered physical abuse; and 8.4% suffered sexual abuse. (Some children are polyvictimized—they have suffered more than one form of maltreatment.)

4 Out of 5 About four out of five abusers are the victims’ parents. A parent of the child victim was the perpetrator in 78.1% of substantiated cases of child maltreatment.

How Children’s Advocacy Centers Served Children: Statistics 

Children’s Advocacy Centers served more than 311,000 children around the country in 2015. Here’s a snapshot of these children.

205,438 Two-thirds of children served disclosed sexual abuse

60,897 Nearly 20% of children served disclosed physical abuse

211,831 Children received on-site forensic interviewing at a Children’s Advocacy Center

People Investigated for Abuse

Of those alleged to have abused children, nearly a quarter were themselves children.

The Signs of Abuse

Some signs of child abuse are more obvious than others. Here are some common signs of abuse:

  • Has a child’s behavior changed? Do they experience fear, anxiety, depression, aggression or withdrawal?
  • Is the child afraid to go home or to see certain individuals?
  • Is a child showing overly sexualized behavior or using sexual language that is inappropriate for the child’s age?
  • Have you noticed changes in a child’s sleeping patterns including frequent nightmares or difficulty falling asleep? Does the child look tired?
  • Have you noticed changes in school performance and attendance, such as being unable to concentrate in class or frequent absences?
  • Have a child’s eating habits changed leading to weight gain or loss?
  • Do you see signs of visible unexplained injuries such as burns, bruises, or broken bones?
  • Is a child using drugs or alcohol?

When a child has confided in you about their abuse…

  •  Keep Calm and tell them you believe them
  • Do not ask them detailed questions about abuse
  • Reassure them that whatever happened is NOT their fault.
  • Call the Abuse Hotline, or Law Enforcement Immediately.
  • If you suspect immediate danger call 911.