ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today was joined by Police Chief Gregory Der, Chief of the State’s Attorney’s Office Special Victims Unit Mary Murphy, Department of Social Services Director Stephen Liggett-Creel, and Commander of the HCPD Family Crimes and Sexual Assault Division Lt. Erika Heaver to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month and the reaccreditation of Howard County’s Child Advocacy Center: The Listening Place by the National Children’s Alliance. Photos of the event can be found here.
This April, as we recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month, we stand together as a community to condemn all forms of child abuse and neglect, stress the importance of supporting families to prevent neglect, and work together as a community to ensure the best for our children. Child abuse and neglect is one of the most devastating tragedies in society, and prevention is one of the most important tools to end it. I’m so grateful for the hard work and partnership of The Listening Place, the entire Police Department, our team at the State’s Attorney’s office, Department of Social Services, and so many advocates and volunteers who go above and beyond to make sure our children are safe.
The mission of The Listening Place is to provide victim-centered, trauma-informed, and comprehensive services to survivors of child abuse and sexual assault. The multidisciplinary approach to these cases ensures that survivors have access to multiple services dedicated to helping them heal and recover from the mental, physical, and emotional trauma they have experienced.
Their on-site services include:
- Child-friendly interviews based in forensic best-practices
- On-site medical exams
- On-site crisis counseling
- Information and referrals to community mental health and victim advocacy partners
- Support services from a victim support liaison
The Listening Place, which serves around 185 children each year, is a collaboration between the Howard County Police Department, Department of Social Services, State’s Attorney’s Office, Health Department and community-based mental health and victim advocacy partners.
“We truly join forces at our Child Advocacy Center, with police, prosecutors, counselors, medical professionals and advocates who aid young victims of child abuse and sexual assault,” said Police Chief Gregory Der. “Our partners make sure that all victims’ needs are met from the time they first report being victimized, through the grieving and recovery process, into the court system and beyond.”
The mission of the CAC is to help reduce the trauma that children experience when they reach out for help to leave a dangerous environment. Before this advocacy center was created 30 years ago, children who disclosed physical abuse or sexual assault would have to tell their stories over and over again. Having all of these resources in the same place, in a facility specifically designed to be child-friendly, helps reduce the pain of having to relive the worst experiences of their lives.
“As someone who has been involved in handling countless child abuse cases, I can tell you that providing a safe and nurturing environment for children to come and recount the abuse they’ve suffered at the hands of someone and receive the wraparound services they need under one roof can make all the difference in the world,” said Mary Murphy, Chief of Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office Special Victims Unit (SVU). “The collaborative effort exhibited by each and every one of our partner agencies at the CAC demonstrates the dedication and commitment we uphold to protect our most vulnerable victims and keep them safe.”
“Preventing child abuse and neglect starts with all of us focusing on making it easy for families to access support services and learn how to identify and build on their strengths,” said Stephen Liggett-Creel, Director of the Department of Social Services.
Common signs of possible physical child abuse or neglect include children who:
- have unexplained injuries or marks
- are reluctant to explain their injuries after returning home from being in someone else’s care
- miss school frequently
- steal or beg for food or money
- lack appropriate hygiene or clothing for the weather
- have a parent who offers conflicting, unconvincing, inconsistent or no explanation for a child’s injury.
For more information on child abuse and a full list of signs of child abuse and neglect, please visit the Maryland Department of Human Services website at https://dhs.maryland.gov/coronavirus-covid-19-resources/prevent-child-abuse-neglect-covid/.
To report suspected physical or sexual child abuse or neglect in Howard County, please call: Child Protective Services Intake Line: 410-872-4203 or 911 for emergencies.
About The Listening Place
Since its founding in 1992, Howard County’s Child Advocacy Center: The Listening Place has been dedicated to ensuring a viable, healthy collaboration that supports and encourages continued learning, training and professional development by staff, their multi-disciplinary team members, organizational partners and the general public. The Listening Place provides services to child victims of physical and sexual abuse; bringing together in collaboration and cooperation medical, mental health expertise, law enforcement, prosecution, forensic interviewers, family advocate- all with the single goal of connecting victims, their siblings, and extended family to important resources that promote healing, one child, one victim at a time.