Statistic about child abuse are staggering. Nationally, an estimated 1,670 children died from abuse and neglect in 2015, according to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthdays. 95% of these children know their perpetrators and 25% of these children were not old enough to attend kindergarten when they were abused.
Jones County is no exception. In 2018, there were more than 60 children who were the victims in child abuse investigations done by our law enforcement. In May, 2019, that number was already 42. These children need access to medical and mental health care, victims’ advocacy, forensic interviews, and sometimes help with basic necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Forensic interviews greatly assist law enforcement and prosecutors in the effort to take the perpetrators off the street and save other children form abuse at their hands. These services are offered at children’s advocacy centers (CACs) nationally.
Our children face a critical disadvantage here in Jones County. We do not have a children’s advocacy center for our children. When abuse is reported we must transport our children to other counties, most often the Mississippi coast, to conduct forensic interviews. Not only is this travel painstaking for the children, families, and law enforcement, our children also forfeit other services that would be afforded them if a CAC were in our local community.
Recognizing that our children deserve more, Cherished Hearts, Inc., is a non-profit organization comprised of a dedicated group of volunteers who are committed to opening a CAC in Jones County. Our children and their proper development and care must be a priority for all of us.
Cherished Hearts Incorporated is a group of individuals dedicated to establishing and operating a Children's Advocacy Center located in Jones County, Mississippi for the purpose of assisting abused children within Jones County and the surrounding Pinebelt region.Learn More
We need funds in order to establish a physical CAC location for the children of Jones County. We hope to staff our center with a forensic interviewer as well as victims advocates who would work closely with law enforcement and Child Protective Services.Learn More