Magic Valley CARES sees close to 300 children a year

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) "I don't think we're seeing every kid that has been victimized or been reported to see any concerns of victimization," said case manager at St. Luke's Magic Valley Cares Sylvia Renova-Gaxiola.

Renova-Gaxiola, works at St. Luke's Children at Risk Evaluation Services. When abuse of children occurs in Idaho, a child can at times be referred to CARES by investigators in instances of sexual and physical abuse, and even instances of neglect. While examinations are conducted at CARES, law enforcement officers are able to watch interviews and receive input from staff in their process toward moving to a conclusion of whether abuse of child occurred.

"We conduct forensic interviews which is an investigative way to draw information from children in on a nonleading way," Sylvia Renova-Gaxiola said. "In a safe child-friendly environment"

Renova-Gaxiola says the numbers of children they see are still a concern, but they're not seeing a up-tick in that number currently.

"The numbers are huge it is a big issue, but it's not at an increase," Renova-Gaxiola said.

She says the numbers are very reflective of national statistics.

"What we know is that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 19th birthday," Renova-Gaxiola said. "We know that 90 percent of children that are victimized sexually are done by people they know and trust."

Renova-Gaxiola says 60 percent of those are caused by close acquaintances to the victims — like teachers or family friends. And that another 30 percent of those instances of child abuse are caused by immediate family members.

While CARES sees close to 300 kids a year, Renova-Gaxiola says numbers aren't an increase.

"The numbers are huge it is a big issue, but it's not at an increase," Renova-Gaxiola said.

Despite that, CARES is doing what it can to ensure child abuse numbers in Southern Idaho don't increase. On Wednesday, April 24 a free community seminar on internet safety for children will be held in the Fine Arts Building, Recital Hall (Room 119) at the College of Southern Idaho Campus from 6:30-8:30 p.m. For more information on the seminar or other events being hosted during Child Abuse Prevention Month, contact Lisa Mittion at 208-814-7755.

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