Child Advocacy Center receives grant to add additional interview recording devices

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 7:24 PM CST
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HANNIBAL (WGEM) - More children in Northeast Missouri say they’ve been abused or neglected.

The Child Advocacy Center of Northeast Missouri, Hannibal, reports seeing a 35% increase of forensic interviews conducted over the last five years.

It can be hard for anyone, but it’s especially hard for kids, to talk about the crimes they’ve seen or experienced.

The Child Advocacy Center’s Lead Forensic Interviewer Michelle Stille, tries to provide a safe and calm place for victims.

The Child Advocacy Center of Northeast Missouri records the video and audio of each interview, preventing the child from having to tell their story over and over.

“That captures the child’s age and emotions at the time of their disclosure and it makes sure that nobody has to decide or interpret what the child said or meant by it other than those trying the facts of the case,” Stille said.

Marion County Prosecuting Attorney, Luke Bryant, said child abuse cases are rising for the county after many kids were home during the pandemic and possibly unwilling to talk.

“That didn’t provide them access to mandated reporters, and so now that the schools are back open and children are attending in person, they are face to face with mandated reporters,” Bryant said. “They’re comfortable with being around their teachers again and a lot of those disclosures have been coming out here recently.”

The Child Advocacy Center of Northeast Missouri’s Grant Writer, Laura Cook, said the Hannibal center saw 227 forensic interviews conducted in 2022 alone.

With cases rising and only one interview room, Stille said it can be a struggle to set up meetings.

That’s why the George H. Riedel Foundation granted the child advocacy center $6,000 to buy more recording equipment, to go in the soon-to-come second interview room.

“Simply receiving a second recording, set of recording equipment, opens the door for so many more kids to receive our services,” Stille said.

The Child Advocacy Center of Northeast Missouri, Hannibal, hopes to open the door to the second interview room in July, allowing more kids to talk and get help.

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