It is no question that sexual assault cases involving children is a problem in Shasta County, but the reality of it still might shock some.
Angela McClure, Shasta County’s program director for the crime victims assistance center, said that in just the last six months there have been 88 sexual assault cases involving children reported. McClure also mentioned that there are likely many more that have not been reported.
About 4,500 child abuse cases are reported in Shasta County every year—four times the California state average.
McClure said that to help children feel more comfortable while they’re being interviewed, the Shasta Family Justice Center is about to open what they call a “soft interview room." This, they hope, will create a more welcoming, living room-type atmosphere that will make the children feel more at ease.
They are also going to begin recording interviews to make sure that children will only need to tell their stories once.
"There’s a higher success rate using the forensic room versus the cold, sterile environment if, say, a police agency in getting the evidence that is necessary,” said McClure. “The children will feel me comfortable being in the home-like environment.”
The child can be questioned in the new room by a professional interviewer while law enforcement watches and guides from another room.
The new forensic interview room will be opened next month.
If you know a child who has been sexually assaulted, the Shasta Family Justice Center’s help line is: 243-8868. They are located on Market St. in Redding.