PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The number of child sexual abuse allegations in Philadelphia is staggering.
There is an average of 250 reports of alleged child sexual abuse in the city each month.
The Philadelphia Children’s Alliance sees as many as 10 children a day. The child advocacy group is nestled between the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit and the Department of Human Services in Hunting Park.
Their role is crucial in helping those entities deal with child sex abuse cases.
“Once we get a report from DHS or the police, we coordinate that investigation, so we will contact families to come in to have the child be interviewed about the allegations,” said Christina Kirchner of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance
The cases are handles sensitively with mental and medical experts on staff to deal with every child. Some say they’ve dealt with children as young 1-year-old.
It’s often a difficult conversation to have with most kids not wanting to reveal the alleged sexual assault.
“Kids are embarrassed. They’re threatened to keep secrets. There is defeinitely a lot of shame. Children don’t know how to tell their caregivers, and they think they might be in trouble,” said Kirchner.
Most recently, the Philadelphia Police Department says the group helped in talking to the two 5-year-old children at the center of a sexual abuse case involving a day care center owner in South Philadelphia.
Parents were urged to talk to their children but Philadelphia Children’s Alliance officials say there are certain ways you should approach the delicate conversation.
“When parents to talk to their kids, all they have to do is make sure their conversation is developmentally appropriate and teaching children we have no secrets in our home so we talk about whatever is going on. We tell parents to teach kids the proper names for body parts and also teaching children that no one should touch their private parts, they’re yours,” said Vickie Melvin of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance.
Experts also say to be aware of behavioral changes that could signal a problem.
“We really do talk to children about understanding that we’re here to help them and to keep them safe. They really need an environment where people are supportive,” said Melvin.
Despite the hundreds of cases the advocacy group deals with every month, there are still as many as 60 percent of child sexual abuse victims who never tell anyone about their abuse.
There are several child advocacy groups throughout the region, which are listed below.
PHILLY : Philadelphia Children’s Alliance
MONTGOMERY COUNTY: Child Advocacy Center-Montgomery
BUCKS COUNTY: The Bucks County Children’s Advocacy Center
DELAWARE COUNTY: Delaware County Children’s Advocacy
CHESTER COUNTY: Chester County Child Advocacy Center