Philadelphia officials came together Thursday to encourage citizens to report child sex abuse and to publicize the city’s collaborative response, which has been practiced for years but made official today.
“We had the district attorney sign an interagency protocol with DHS and the police commissioner that we’ve been trying to get passed since 1989,” said Human Services Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose.
In Philadelphia, reports of abuse are investigated by DHS, which takes victims to the nonprofit Children’s Alliance and videotapes their interview for viewing by police and prosecutors to avoid the trauma of telling it multiple times.
In 2010, DHS averaged 130 child sex-abuse reports per month. Nationally, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 4 men are sexually abused before they reach the age of 18; and 90 percent of the time, it is committed by someone they know.
Mayor Michael Nutter noted that a lot of the reports surrounding Penn State focused on the football program’s involvement to the exclusion of the victims and said he hoped to turn the conversation back to how child abuse can be recognized and reported.
“It’s not enough to report up one person and think your job is done,” he said. “You should feel within yourself the responsibility to follow that through, at least to the law-enforcement stage.”
If you suspect abuse, call the DHS’s child abuse hot line at 215-683-6100, the state hotline at 800-932-0313 or 911.