The CARES program aims to facilitate the process of reporting abused minors

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They are called fidgets. They are multi-colored objects with soft strands and hard corners. They are meant for children to hold onto while they talk about topics that make them uncomfortable.

They are located in the interview rooms of the CARES offices in Twin Falls. CARES stands for At-Risk Child Assessment Services. This is a program for children and adolescents who are victims of crimes or sexual abuse.

In the interview rooms, they talk to a trained forensic investigator about times they have been mistreated or assaulted. It’s just the interviewer and the miner … and stirs them up.

The important part of fidgets is that they are not fantastic items. They are not Disney, they are not princesses or ogres, they are only objects. CARES doesn’t want children to mistake what happened to them for fairy tales. What happened to them was real.

“We know that child abuse and especially child sexual abuse is a widespread problem in every community,” said Anne Tierney, CARES program coordinator in Twin Falls. “even in ours.”

CARES sees around 300 minors each year. Most of them have been sexually abused. Tierney says that one in ten children will be a victim of sex crimes in the United States before the age of 18.

For this reason, CARES started in 1995 to help these child victims. There are 700 CARES certified programs nationwide, four in Idaho and one in the Magic Valley area.

“Really, having that kind of service in our community is imperative,” Tierney said.

The interview is filmed and in a room at the end of the corridor are the police and child protection. A DVD of the interview is then given to the police as proof.

This system ensures that the child only has to tell their story once. Before CARES started, kids would tell it many times. They would inform teachers, guards, doctors, police, counselors and a number of third-party sources.

“It can really change a child’s ability to provide answers in the best possible way,” Tierny said.

In Twin Falls, and many other places across the country since 1995, they say it once. In a colorful room. With their agitations.

After that, they will pass a medical examination. There is an examination room right next to the interview room in the CARES building.

“It’s not as anxious place as the emergency room or a quick-care type place because we move slower and more quietly and the child himself can relax and begin to heal,” he said. said Dr. Kathryn Reese, Medical Director of CARES.

Reese explains to the children what she is doing if they wish. If they’d rather not talk about what’s going on, they just bring up a topic like the weather.

Some adolescents and children take the opportunity to ask questions they have not asked for years. Reese says a young girl in her early teens asked her if she could be pregnant. Because she discovered that what had happened to her four years ago could have made her pregnant.

Medical examinations take place regardless of when the abuse took place. The national average for CARES is more than two years behind the incident.

“We’re seeing a long timeframe for disclosure for a lot of different factors, but one of them being that they’re scared, they’re worried about getting into trouble,” Tierney said.

Reese said she gets questions from time to time from parents or guardians about why they had to take an exam years later. She says she often finds other medical problems and that some lasting injuries from the abuse are not visible.

She also says it can give the miner some peace of mind.

“At the end of the exam, it’s like, I’m fine,” Reese said. “The relief you see on their faces is just awesome.”


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