• Scholarly report

Evaluating children’s advocacy centers’ response to child sexual abuse

Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) play an increasingly significant role in the response to child sexual abuse and other child maltreatment in the United States. First developed in the 1980s, CACs were designed to reduce the stress on child abuse victims and families created by traditional child abuse investigation and prosecution procedures and to improve the effectiveness of the response. According to several experts (Fontana, 1984; Pence and Wilson, 1992; Whitcomb, 1992), child victims were subjected to multiple, redundant interviews about their abuse by different agencies, and were questioned by professionals who had no knowledge of children’s developmental limitations or experience working with children. Child interviews would take place in settings like police stations that would further stress already frightened children. Moreover, the response was hampered because the multiple agencies involved did not coordinate their investigations,
and children’s need for services could be neglected.


Cross, T., Jones, L. M., Walsh, W. A., Simone, M., Kolko, D. J., Szczepanski, J., ... Magnuson, S. (2008). Evaluating children’s advocacy centers’ response to child sexual abuse. (OJJDP Juvenile Justice Bulletin; No. NCJ 218530). Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice.