Childrens Alliance Center / CASA
The Children’s Alliance Center (CAC) of Berks County provides a child-friendly environment that welcomes abused children and non-offender family members and caregivers. Children will be interviewed once at the CAC. Various agencies will observe the interview simultaneously, thereby reducing the number of interviews and the amount of emotional stress.
Services provided at the CAC include: forensic interviews, forensic medical exams and case management for the families to help them cope with the impact of the abuse. Since opening its doors in July 2004, the CAC of Berks County has provided services for hundreds of children.
Our partner agencies include: Berks County Children and Youth Services; Berks County District Attorney’s Office; Berks County Detectives; Reading Police Department; St. Joseph’s Medical Center; Reading Hospital and Medical Center; Berks Women in Crisis; Berks Counseling Associates; Berks County Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities Program, and other local law enforcement
Sexual abuse is a sexual offense against a child, such as rape, sodomy, engaging a child in a sexual activity, or engaging a child in or promoting a child's sexual performance.
Increasing incidents of emotional, physical, sexual abuse, and neglect are as real in Berks County as they are nationwide. Annually, 100 Children and Youth Agency (CYS) staff deals with more than 1,500 cases of abuse and neglect in Berks County.
Don't be fooled into thinking all child molesters are:
- Strangers or dirty old men
- Mentally disabled
- Lurking in alleys, parks and schoolyards
- Addicted to drugs or alcohol.
The greatest risk comes from friends and family, not strangers. 93 percent of victims know their abusers: 34 percent are abused by family members; 59 percent are abused by someone trusted by the family.
If the abuse was by someone outside of the family and household, report to the local or state police immediately.
A child molester is usually a trusted adult or older teen, often a close friend or family member. Someone with access to children, such as a babysitter, neighbor or coach. A skillful manipulator, willing to use any trick he or she can, including lavish attention, gifts, force, guilt, lies about the child’s family, threats to the child’s family, or using child victims to “recruit” new victims.
Experts estimate that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthdays. 67 percent of all reported sexual assaults happen to children ages 17 and under. Despite these alarming statistics, there are steps you as a parent can take to reduce your children’s risk of being sexually abused.
- Touching sexual organs
- Making a child touch an adult sexually
- Attempted or actual sexual intercourse
- Child Pornography
- Child Prostitution
- Sex rings- This involves one or more adults who abuse children in small groups
- Ritualistic abuse – sexual abuse as part of a ceremony.
Symptoms of sexual abuse may include physical and behavioral signs. Many children who are sexually abused never exhibit any physical signs. Behavioral signs are more common.
Physical signs of sexual abuse:
- Difficulty walking or sitting
- Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
- Pain or itching in the genital, vaginal or anal area
- Venereal disease
Behavioral signs of sexual abuse:
- Unwillingness to change for, or participate in, gym class
- Withdrawal from family, school, or friends
- Reverting to more childish or infantile behavior
- Bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual behavior or knowledge
- Reports of sexual abuse
To report suspected child abuse call Childline at 1-800-932-0313
CAC contact information:
Children’s Alliance Center/CASA
50 North 4th Street, Suite 102
Reading, PA 19601
Phone: 610-898-0535 X-23