Lakes Area Child Advocacy Center, located in Branson West,
assists in investigation of reports of alleged child abuse
in Stone, Taney and surrounding counties. When a Hotline call
is received at the Division of Family Services (DFS), they
contact law enforcement to investigate the allegation. If
they determine the situation needs further assessment, our
center is contacted to set up a private, videotaped interview
and exam of the child by a trained professional. Since our
goal is to minimize the amount of trauma the victim may experience,
these videotaped interviews, which are held in a child-friendly
room, help prevent the child from having to tell their story
over and over. We then help arrange follow-up medical, mental
health and/or victims advocacy referrals for the child
and the family.
Think about it: most legal, social services, medical and mental
health systems are designed for adults, not children. Child
victims of abuse deserve a place that is just for them. The
Lakes Area Child Advocacy Center provides this: all the necessary
services are provided within the walls of a place designed
especially for children. When a child visits the Center to
be interviewed and examined, they have already endured some
degree of trauma, so offering a warm and child-friendly environment
in which he or she feels comfortable and at home is very important.
When a child comes here, we want their visit to feel as safe,
secure, and peaceful as possible.
on site at the Center is the Coordinator and the forensic
nurse practitioner/examiner. But overall, the Center works
with its multi-disciplinary team to help the children who
come through our doors. This means that agency representatives
from law enforcement and DFS work together with prosecuting
attorneys, physicians, and therapists in the investigation
and referral to treatment services. It is a team-oriented
commitment to help children who are alleged to have been physically
and/or sexually abused.
In our rural area, the Lakes Area Child
Advocacy Center assesses an average of 150-200 children per
year; numbers that have nearly tripled in the last several
years. Child sexual and physical abuse does happen around
us every day. Here are some things you need to know:
85% of sexual perpetrators are people the child knows
1in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys have been sexually abused
by age 18.
Children are usually not violently attacked during
a sexual assault, they are coerced or threatened to keep
The average age at onset of abuse is between 5-7 years of
70% of mothers of abuse victims have themselves been the
victims of some type of abuse.
Fear of being alone with a particular person.
Nightmares, fear of going to bed.
Sudden and consistent bedwetting.
Changes in behavior at school or in relating to friends/siblings.
Sudden acting out of feelings, anger, afraid to go home,
More sexual knowledge than is appropriate for their age.
ARE NOT DEFINITE SIGNS OF ABUSE.
THE KEY IS TO JUST BE AWARE.
loving forms of discipline are NOT abuse. Children need discipline
and consistency to become healthy, kind and responsible people.
Teach children early that their bodies are special and private.
Help them be comfortable with correct names of private body
Emotional: Includes rejection, verbal cruelty, ridiculing,
encouraging the child to smoke, drink, be cruel to animals,
engage in criminal activity.
Physical: When a child is inflicted with physical injury,
other than accidental, which causes impairment, injury, disfigurement,
or death of the child.
Sexual: When a dominant person uses a child for personal
sexual gratification. (Sexual abuse should not be confused
with healthy, affectionate physical contacts between an adult
and child that are fond and playful expressions of love.)
Neglect: Failure to provide food, shelter, clothing,
a safe environment, medical care, or adequate supervision.
your child upon disclosure of sexual abuse. Do not blame them
for what happened.
The Lakes Area Child Advocacy Center is a not-for-profit agency
funded by local donations and a grant from the Missouri Department
of Public Safety. Forensic medical examinations are provided
at the center by arrangement with Skaggs Hospital in Branson.
Our all important local donations cover costs for continuing
education for multidisciplinary team members, as well as basic
supplies and operating costs for the center. We also participate
in area fund-raisers and promotions for financial assistance.
If you and/or your organization are interested in donating
to the Center, or in having someone speak to your group, contact
our Center Coordinator at
We are all mandated reporters.
You have a responsibility to report any child abuse.
If you suspect or need to report child abuse,
contact the Missouri State Child Abuse Hotline: