Advocating for Our Children

The Massachusetts Federation of Young Republicans is proud to post content from Republican state legislators to keep our members apprised of legislation on Beacon Hill. This is the fifth in a series of guest posts by Republicans in the State House who are working on the legislation that matters most to Massachusetts.

By Representative Elizabeth A. Poirier (R-North Attleborough)

Children are our most precious natural resource, but they are also among the most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.  Consider these statistics:

  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be the victim of sexual abuse before the age of 18
  • 90% of perpetrators are known to the victim
  • 30-40% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by a family member
  • There are over 42 million survivors of sexual assault in America

These sobering figures are provided by the Children’s Advocacy Center for Bristol County (CAC), a private, non-profit agency whose mission is to empower children and families to heal from the trauma of abuse and violence through community partnerships, education and the pursuit of justice.  

Since it was founded in 2007, the CAC has served over 3,200 children and families, making a positive difference in the lives of those who have been victimized by, or have witnessed, violence and abuse.

The CAC uses a multi-disciplinary team approach that brings together members of law enforcement, the Bristol County District Attorney’s office, the Department of Children & Families, and other community-based agencies to provide a coordinated response to all reports of child abuse.  The primary focus of the CAC’s highly-trained professional workforce is to provide families with the support and services they need, while doing everything possible to ensure that the child – who has already been victimized – does not suffer from any further trauma.

The CAC specializes in providing comprehensive forensic interviews, medical and mental health services, as well as access to free Pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (Pedi-SANE) exams and consultations.  The CAC also acts as an advocate for victims, witnesses and their families as they work their way through the criminal justice system, providing information and support at every step throughout what can be an overwhelming and stressful process.

I’m fortunate to have the CAC in my district, and have witnessed firsthand the incredible work that this organization does on behalf of the residents of Attleboro, Mansfield, North Attleborough and the 17 other communities that make up Bristol County.  Each year, I include it on my list of personal priorities to receive funding assistance through the state budget process, and this year is no exception.  I cannot think of an organization that is more deserving of support than the CAC, and I intend to continue to advocate on its behalf during the upcoming House budget debate.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time dedicated to promoting education and raising awareness about child abuse and how to prevent it, something the CAC has been doing since it first opened its doors nine years ago.  When people are better informed about child sexual abuse and know how to recognize the warning signs, the end result is a much safer environment for all of our children.

Representative Elizabeth A. Poirier (R-North Attleborough) is the Second Assistant House Minority Leader.