CMPD investigates increase in sexual assault involving children this year – WSOC TV
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Police in Charlotte-Mecklenburg have said they are investigating an increase in the number of sexual assaults involving children this year and are concerned the cases may be underreported.
Figures released Thursday show that the CMPD has already received 31 reports of rape involving children this year. That’s a 210% increase from 2020, which had 10 reports.
“I think this is actually an underreported number of assaults that do occur,” said Jessica Hall, CMPD Detective for the Crimes Against Children Unit.
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Hall said that because the children were isolated during last year’s pandemic, it was not until they returned to school that they began to see children reporting the abuse.
“This is something that no family, no child should have to experience. And here at Pat’s Place, we see over 700 children a year for abuse. It’s a testament to the pervasiveness and importance of having these conversations with families and children, ”said Shawna Pagano, Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center.
Pagano works with the CMPD’s Crimes Against Children unit. Staff members help facilitate the first and only interview with the child and then help provide resources.
“We provide advocacy reports to caregivers so we can help them navigate emotions and the criminal justice system. We provide clients with therapy or refer them to other therapists in the community who meet their needs, ”said Pagano.
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Pagano said a big goal has been prevention through education. She said they had done more this year to try and teach children about the signs and symptoms of child abuse.
“One of the things that we also do is a child abuse prevention program for kids in Kindergarten to Grade 5 where school counselors go into the classroom and teach kids about abuse and how to tell a child. adult safe if anything happens to this, ”Pagano said. .
Pagano said more than a handful of schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg have participated this year and plan to expand the program to the rest of Mecklenburg County very soon.
For those with more questions about the signs and symptoms of an abused child, Pat’s Place is hosting a webinar on June 16 to answer the questions.
(Watch below: Case of former CMS student brought to court after sexual assault by former group director)
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