Following sexual assault of two children, child advocacy center reports spike in cases
BATON ROUGE- The Baton Rouge Children's Advocacy Center, which serves East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Iberville, and Pointe Coupee parishes, is reporting a significant spike in cases this week.
It comes after WBRZ reported a horrific case in Baton Rouge involving a 4-year-old and a 12-year-old who were both sexually assaulted in their home on Cadillac Street. No one has been arrested, but the children's siblings witnessed the crime, according to investigators. Those siblings reported it to their parents who immediately notified police.
"The first thing that we do is interview children as laypeople and we are specifically trained to obtain information from children that helps law enforcement investigate the case, while also seeking not to retraumatize children," said Toni Bankston, director of the Children's Advocacy Center.
Bankston said her organization typically sees about 600 cases per year of children who were abused physically or sexually. This week alone, her organization has seen a 20-percent increase in cases.
Right now there is a need for supervision of children who are out of school. Bankston said warning signs can be seen in several ways.
"There are a number of different ways children might indicate they are experiencing abuse," Bankston said. "One of the ways that is difficult to deal with, and is missed as a sign, is that they can present problems. Sexual behaviors show signs of having inappropriate knowledge of sexuality that they should not have for their age, which can tell us they have been exposed through TV, porn, seeing things happen or maybe experiencing it themselves."
Bankston added that children are also at a higher risk of being abused during times they are away from school, which is why it is more important than ever for people to be on alert.
"It is critical for not only parents to be vigilant and selective about who is hanging out with their children... But I think there is a larger responsibility, and that is for the community at large understanding children are not at school. We all, neighbors, friends, need to keep an eye on kids."
If you or someone you know has been affected, there are free resources to seek help:
1. Baton Rouge Children's Advocacy Center – Provide trauma-informed, and child-focused services in the aftermath of abuse and violent crime.
626 East Blvd.
2. STAR(Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response) - Provide supportive services to survivors to reduce their experience of trauma.
Capital Area Branch
5615 Corporate Blvd., Suite 200
3. Capital Area Human Services – Crisis Intervention Center