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Working Together for Children

Professionals in our community have a strong track record of keeping our children safe from abuse and trauma. As the coordinating center for child abuse response in Charleston and Berkeley counties, Dee Norton works with our community partners to streamline services for youth and provide training and programs on child abuse and trauma.

What to Look for

No one sign or symptom is the deciding factor in whether or not a child has been abused. Often, the first indicator is when a child discloses abuse. However, some children who are abused may have changes in their behaviors and/or emotions. For example, a normally talkative child may become withdrawn or a typically reserved child who has new fears that emerge. If you notice changes in your child, ask them how they are doing—and listen. Let them know they can always come to you, and if you need advice on how to handle these sensitive conversations, we are here to help.

Studies show that children who have been abused are at higher risk for emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts as well as health problems including high blood pressure, asthma, and obesity. Addressing trauma symptoms related to the abuse during childhood can make the difference in putting the abuse behind them.

Preventing Abuse

Prevention efforts do keep abuse from happening to many children, and you'll need the right tools to keep children safe.

How We Work Together

Multidisciplinary Team

At the very center of the work we do is the Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). The MDT is a group of professionals from specific, distinct disciplines that work together from the point of report and throughout a child and family’s involvement with the CAC. A functioning and collaborative MDT is the foundation of an effective response to child abuse. The MDT approach allows for a coordinated response to allegations of abuse; it operates under a protocol that streamlines investigative activities and reduces duplication of support services, causing the least amount of adverse impact on the child and family. The member agencies of the MDT at Dee Norton are united in a collaborative effort to respond with the recognition that no one agency by itself could assure the protection and wellbeing of children. By sharing our resources and expertise we are better equipped to deliver an effective, comprehensive response to children and families.

Child Abuse School Liasion

Children spend the majority of their days in school, and educators–as mandated reporters of child abuse–often find themselves in a situation that requires a report to be made. The Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center’s Child Abuse School Liaison (CASL) Program is designed to support school personnel in identifying and appropriate reporting of suspected child abuse. The Child Abuse School Liaison works directly with school administrators, guidance counselors, and teachers to provide training on mandated reporting responsibilities and the impact of trauma on children and families, and is also available to school personnel when specific case consultation is needed.

Identifying, Responding & Reporting Allegations of Child Abuse

Educators and child care providers spend up to 8 hours a day with children, sometimes more time than the children spend with any other adults in their life. These professionals are in a unique position to identify signs of abuse and neglect that no one else may see. This training provides school professionals with knowledge in how to respond appropriately to a child who is believed to be a victim of abuse and/or neglect, and to know in which circumstances mandated reporting is required by law. The curriculum also provides information about how to report to child protective services and/or law enforcement.

Trauma-Informed Educators

The majority of children will experience a potentially traumatic event in childhood, such as natural disasters or the loss of loved ones or a serious accident; however, the most common form of child trauma is child abuse and neglect. Without intervention, child traumatic stress can sometimes have lasting negative consequences for the child, the family, and the community. This training provides essential knowledge for education professionals to be able to recognize the impact trauma exposure has on children, especially concerning classroom behavior and academics. With increased understanding, educators can make accommodations for students, when needed within the classroom, and help connect the child and family to resources in the community.

For more information or to schedule a training, contact the Dee Norton Child Abuse School Liaison.

Trainings

As a Children’s Advocacy Center, Dee Norton works regularly with Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) partners from agencies in the community—including medical, legal, law enforcement, educators, social services, guardians ad litem, and mental health—to take appropriate action as quickly as possible. We coordinate and provide cross-training opportunities with our MDT community partners to enhance our collaborative response with children and their families. Training topics are developed in collaboration with and to meet the identified needs of the MDT. Team members with recommendations for future MDT trainings should contact the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center’s MDT Coordinator.

How We Help Children

What happens when a child comes to Dee Norton?

At the first moment of concern, there is a safe, child-friendly place to turn to for help. We're here to offer advice at (843) 723-3600.

  • After talking to one of our intake coordinators, an appointment will be scheduled where appropriate.
  • To establish a clear record of the concern, a forensic interview may take place with the child by one of our specially-trained professionals.
  • A caregiver and family assessment may be offered to give caregivers and family members a safe space to share their experience and to provide support to help them understand and learn how to respond to the child’s reactions.
  • The child may receive a medical examination at the Center by a pediatric specialist from MUSC who helps assure the child—and their family—that their body is okay.
  • If further assessment is recommended, the child and their family will meet with a therapist at the Center to see what treatment, if any, is needed.
  • If therapy is needed, children and parents will meet with therapists one-on-one to discuss a treatment plan.
  • Tailored treatments have been proven to reduce a child’s symptoms and typically are carried out in 10 to 25 sessions.
  • Case coordination is provided through the multidisciplinary team (MDT), which meets weekly to review cases and make recommendations. The MDT’s goal is to work together in the best interest of the child and the family.

Types of Abuse

  • Sexual Abuse

    Child sexual abuse is any interaction between a child and an adult (or older child) where the child is used for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator or an observer. Sexual abuse can include both touching and non-touching behaviors. Non-touching behaviors can include voyeurism (trying to look at a child’s naked body), exhibitionism, or exposing the child to pornography. Children of all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, and economic backgrounds may experience sexual abuse.

  • Physical Abuse

    Physical abuse is one of the most common forms of child maltreatment. While legal definitions vary, physical abuse, broadly, occurs when a parent or caregiver commits an act that results in physical injury to a child or teen. Sometimes physical abuse happens even when parents did not intend to cause an injury. Physical abuse may include hitting, punching, shaking, kicking, beating, burning, or otherwise harming a child.

  • Emotional Abuse

    Emotional abuse includes acts or the failures to act by parents or caretakers that cause or could cause serious behavioral, intellectual, or, emotional disorders.

  • Domestic Violence

    Exposure to interpersonal violence between adults in a child’s home can be harmful to children. It can include witnessing or being aware of the violence happening between adults in the home. While domestic violence often occurs as a pattern of controlling and coercive behavior, an initial incident of abuse may also be a cause for concern. Tactics used in domestic violence can be physical, sexual, financial, verbal, or emotional against the partner. Exposure to substance abuse, such as drugs or alcohol by parents and other caregivers, also can have negative effects on the health, safety, and well-being of children.

  • Neglect

    Although not discussed as often as other forms, neglect is the most common form of child abuse. Whereas other forms of abuse occur when something negative happens to a child, neglect is when a child’s basic needs for food, housing, health care, and warm clothing are not met.

  • Bullying

    Bullying is a form of peer victimization when one person deliberately and repeatedly intimidates or harms another. Bullying can severely affect a child’s or teen's self-image, social interactions, or school performance, and can lead to mental health problems.

How to Report

If you live in South Carolina and suspect abuse by a family member who has responsibility for taking care of the child, contact the South Carolina Child Abuse Hotline at (888) CARE4US® / (888) 227-3487.

If you live in the Lowcountry area and need assistance with this process, call us at (843) 723-3600.

If you live outside of South Carolina and need help, call National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 4ACHILD® / (800) 422-4453.

If you suspect abuse by someone who does not have caregiver responsible for the child, contact your local law enforcement jurisdiction:

Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office
(843) 719-4465 (Moncks Corner)
(843) 723-3800 ext. 4465 (Charleston)
(843) 567-3136 ext. 4465 (St. Stephen)

Charleston Police Department (843) 577-7434

Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (843) 202-1700

Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office
(843) 202-1700 (before 5pm) | (843) 873-5111 (after 5pm)

Folly Beach Police Department (843) 588-2433

Goose Creek Police Department (843) 572-4300

Hanahan Police Department (843) 873-5111

Isle of Palms Police Department (843) 886-6522

Moncks Corner Police Department (843) 719-7935

Mount Pleasant Police Department (843) 884-4176

North Charleston Police Department (843) 884-4176

Sullivan’s Island Police Department (843) 871-2463

Summerville Police Department (843) 875-1650

Charleston Child Trauma Conference

The Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center hosts an annual conference for child maltreatment professionals with an emphasis on empirically-based best practices among those who serve child abuse and child trauma victims.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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