Pennsylvania district attorneys are urging that the state’s child advocacy centers benefit from the $60 million Penn State endowment. The money comes from fines the NCAA levied on the university in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, to be used to aid young victims of sexual abuse.
Pennsylvania has 21 child advocacy centers, which provide comprehensive services to children who report sexual abuse, such as child-sensitive interviews regarding the abuse and mental health services.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says these centers provide an essential service in helping victims, and preventing future abuse.
“We really want these children to get the psychological help that they need,” he explained. “Far too many victims of child sexual abuse carry the scars for life, and way too many perpetrate the very crime that they were the victim of on others.”
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association has written letters to both Penn State and the NCAA calling on them to use money from the endowment to support these centers — and to create centers in counties that don’t have this resource.
Chris Kirchner, who heads the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, says additional funding could help her agency reach more victims.
“Here in Philadelphia there’s an average of 1,600 to 1,800 official reports of child sexual abuse allegations every year. We want to be able to serve 100 percent of children who need us, and right now, we’re not able to do that,” she said.
Kirchner says having “one-stop” comprehensive services available cuts down on the number of interviews child victims have to sit through. Several agencies have to be in the loop when it comes to child sexual abuse, and sometimes young victims have to tell their stories of abuse several times at several different offices all over the city, which can be traumatic.
Philadelphia Children’s Alliance will move into a new building next year and hopes to extend its services to more victims.