- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Juveniles in state custody who say they’ve been sexually assaulted or abused will now get help from West Virginia’s child advocacy centers under a new agreement.

West Virginia Child Advocacy Network spokeswoman Emily Chittenden-Laird and state Division of Juvenile Services spokesman Tim Harper announced this week that the state’s 10 juvenile facilities signed agreements with their local child advocacy centers last month, the Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/2dzGk3U) reported.

This means every child in the state’s juvenile justice system who alleges sexual abuse will receive help from those specialized in working with children.

Chittenden-Laird says research suggests children who are targeted are more likely to end up in the state’s juvenile justice system custody, where facilities have not been historically equipped to help them heal from the trauma.

“Trauma’s impact can often show up as delinquent behaviors with kids,” Chittenden-Laird said.

Both parties want to train Juvenile Services staff on responding appropriately to children who say they’ve been abused, allowing them to have access to a range of child advocacy center services.

Harper noted that the Juvenile Services facilities do have mental health workers, but they would like “to reach out to child advocacy centers who do this every day.”

The agreements will remain in effect for two years before they must be renewed.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

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