Child Advocacy Center Gives Hope to Young Victims

Posted at: 04/25/2014 6:26 PM

Photo: ABC 6 News
Photo: ABC 6 News

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- As Child Abuse Prevention Month comes to a close, Southeastern Minnesota’s only child advocacy center gives us a look at how they're helping heal little hearts.
Dr. Arne Graff is just one out of a team of people working together to evaluate and care for kids who are victims of abuse.
"There are about 3.5 million kids evaluated or reported on a yearly basis, there are almost twice that number that never get reported because people get anxious,” said Dr. Arne Graff, Mayo Clinic.
Making victims and their families comfortable is the goal of Mayo Clinic's Child and Family Advocacy Center. The facility has exam rooms and discussion rooms, but there's also a place to talk one-on-one with patients. An interview room, that's videotaped, and those sitting in the room next door can listen in.
"The team can watch as the forensic interview is occurring and can talk with an ear bud with the person that's doing the interview,” said Graff.
For the doctors, social workers and mental health specialists, it's all about keeping young patients at ease after a traumatic experience to ensure they have a healthy future.
"We know that kids who have lots of exposure to abuse can have significant mental health problems when they become adults. So the goal of the place here is keep the kids safe, help families be healthy families, to help them be a healthy environment for the kids,” said Graff.
The facility has been open for just more than a year now. But the team has been doing this same work without an official site for decades. They say getting it all under one roof has made a big difference.