Child protection teams combat child sexual abuse

About 750 child sexual abuse cases a year in Northeast Florida, experts say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Child sexual abuse is devastating and traumatic for victims and their families. Dealing with it is never easy and cases are never the same. But the University of Florida leads a group of Child Protection Teams dedicated to dealing with the sensitive matters involved.

Dr. Randell Alexander is in charge of the Child Protection Teams for the state of Florida. The teams investigate all kinds of child abuse.

Alexander is based in Jacksonville but travels the world teaching others about how to help young victims.

Alexander said that a lot of abusers were abused themselves as children.

"A more than average amount were," said Alexander, "absolutely."

In Northeast Florida alone the Child Protection Teams deal with about 3,000 child abuse cases every year. Of those, 25 percent involve sexual abuse.
 
"We don't want the children to be seen in the emergency room for example," said Alexander. "What a chaotic place to be able to talk and to do that. So they come to our quiet place 24 hours a day if need be, and we talk to them, we do interviews with them, we do medical examinations to make sure that they are okay."
 
The trends are improving, Alexander said.

"And we think probably because the legal system and the law enforcement system have gotten so much better over the years, that has made a difference," he said. "We think that we make a difference."
 
Alexander said if parents, guardians or teachers worry a child might be suffering abuse, they should call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873. For more information, visit www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/abuse-hotline/howtoreport.

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