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Frequently Asked Questions

Do children live at the Child Advocacy Center (CAC)?
No, children do not live at the Rainbow House Regional Child Advocacy Center. Children come to the CAC for forensic interviews and counseling.

Where do the children who come to the CAC live? Are they with their parents or in foster care?
Most children who receive services at the CAC continue to live in their homes. Children’s Division tries to keep children in their homes whenever possible. Children’s Division staff members work with the family to develop immediate plans for protection of the child.  In some circumstances a child may be removed and placed with a relative, Rainbow House temporarily, or in foster care. This will only occur if there is a concern about the caretaker’s ability or willingness to keep the child safe from an alleged perpetrator.

How/why do children come to the CAC? How do cases get to the CAC team?
Children come to the CAC following a report that a child may have been abused.  This might be a disclosure from a child or a report from a witness or other concerned party. After a formal report to Children’s Division or law enforcement is made, children may come to the CAC for a forensic (investigative) interview and/or counseling services.

The CAC uses a team approach to deal with the issue of child abuse.  Each county served by the CAC has a team of investigative personnel that work in conjunction with the CAC when they refer a case to Rainbow House for a forensic interview or other services.  The team members review the different facets of a case and determine the next step in the investigative process.

How is the CAC funded?
Rainbow House has a diverse funding base which includes foundation and government grants, individual donations, corporate gifts and investments.

How do I make a report of suspected abuse?
To report abuse in Missouri, please call the Missouri Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800.392.3738. You can reach this toll free number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you suspect abuse is occurring, make the report. This includes doctors, police, teachers, parents, mental health professionals, child care providers, dentists, family members and friends. You could save a child's life.

What if I'm not sure a child is being abused?
Individuals sometimes hesitate to report physical or sexual abuse cases unless they are convinced beyond a doubt that the abuse occurred. Although this is understandable, it is not a legal response and often comes from misguided “good intentions.” Do not try to find “proof” that the abuse has happened before choosing to take action. You could ultimately jeopardize the child’s protection and the investigation by not acting on a reasonable suspicion.

How can I tell if a child is being sexually abused?
Sometimes there are physical signs of sexual abuse, but the majority of sexual abuse cases have no physical evidence.  Just because a child displays certain behaviors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that sexual abuse has occurred. In the same respect, even if your child does not have physical signs of abuse, you should believe it when he/she tells you something has happened. Rainbow House staff has many play therapy groups and professionals equipped to handle these cases.

Do children ever make false allegations of child abuse?
Multiple studies demonstrate that false allegations of child sexual abuse are rare. In fact, only 2% of such allegations are shown to be based on lies—and the majority of those come from adults, not from children who say they have been victimized.

Remember, children are often afraid to tell anyone that they’ve been sexually abused because the abuser may have threatened them or because they fear they’ll be punished for what happened. That makes it all the more important for adults to believe a child who has the courage to come forward—even in the face of the rare lie.

Why aren’t more cases of child abuse prosecuted?
The District Attorney’s office in the nine counties we serve do accept a large percentage of child abuse cases for criminal prosecution. However, before they can accept a case for criminal prosecution, the law says they must be satisfied that the evidence is sufficient to unanimously persuade a jury of twelve men and women, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the suspect is guilty of a crime. When the evidence meets this standard, they will prosecute. When the evidence does not meet this standard, they will not prosecute. They rely upon their education and experience as prosecutors to make these difficult decisions.

The decision to decline criminal prosecution is often disappointing for the child victim and his or her family. However, a decision to decline criminal prosecution does not mean that the District Attorney’s office thinks the offense did not occur, or that they do not care about the child. The decision to decline only means that the prosecutors think the evidence is insufficient for criminal prosecution.  

Are children scarred for life if they are sexually abused?
Children are remarkably resilient and can overcome the trauma of sexual abuse and lead normal, happy, healthy lives. Family support and counseling can reduce the likelihood of lifelong trauma.

However, child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse can result in negative and/or destructive behaviors among its victims, which can continue into adulthood if successful intervention does not occur. In addition to the greater potential for criminal behavior, these negative and/or destructive behaviors may include depression, guilt, learning difficulties, runaway behavior, hysterical seizures, phobias, nightmares, compulsive rituals, self-destructive behaviors, development of eating disorders, substance abuse and addiction, indiscriminate sexual behavior, and suicidal behaviors.

How many perpetrators were abused themselves?
It is a common perception that most perpetrators were abused as children. This is not true—a minority of sex offenders are victims of abuse, though the numbers are higher than the general population. One study showed that about 30% of offenders were sexually abused as children and about 20% were physically abused (there may be some crossover with these percentages). 

Will all abused children grow up to become perpetrators?
No. Very few child abuse victims go on to abuse others. One study showed that 5% or less of child sexual abuse victims abused other children as adults.  According to this study, victims with female perpetrators and witnesses of domestic violence were the most likely to abuse as adults. Therapeutic intervention following the abuse of a child decreases the chance that a child victim will abuse later in life. 

What are the ages of the children that come to the Center?
We see children of all ages, many races and both genders. 

How can I tell if a sex offender lives near me?
While not all offenders are registered, you can access a list of registered sex offenders in your area. To see registered offenders in the state of Missouri, click here. Click here to check sex offenders registered in other states.

Unfortunately, not all states have a registry. Information regarding sexual abuse convictions is public record and can also be obtained from the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the person was convicted.

Typically, who is the child abuser?
There is no one “type” of abuser. However, children are most often abused by people they know and trust. Abusers may be family members, friends of the family, or babysitters. They can be rich, poor or middle-class, male or female, young or old. They can be of any race or religion and can work in any profession. You cannot tell simply by looking at a person if he or she is a child abuser.

How do I protect my child from being abused?
Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Speak to your children using the proper names for their body parts. Armed with information, children are better able to report abuse to you.

Teach your children about safe and unsafe touches, as well as what is appropriate physical affection.

Let your children know that respect for elders doesn’t extend to an adult that has made your child uncomfortable. It’s OK to say no and it’s OK to leave the situation, if possible.

Trust your instincts. If your instincts tell you something is wrong, follow up.

Know the people your children spend time with (babysitters, friends parents, etc.). Check references and backgrounds of potential babysitters. Meet them, and make sure your child is comfortable with them, too.

Remember, it is rarely a stranger who abuses a child, so do not focus only on stranger safety when you talk to your child about abuse.

Believe your child. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse.

Does the CAC address custody or visitation issues?
No, the CAC serves children who are victims of severe physical and sexual abuse. We do not provide legal advocacy or advice, nor do we provide advice or assistance in matters of custody or visitation.