Services provided to children aged 12 and under who are victims of sexual violence
At Fondation Marie-Vincent, children who are victims of sexual violence receive services tailored to their needs. All services – police, medical, psychosocial and sociolegal – are provided in one place.
How does a police interview work?
In a police interview, an investigator questions the child about the sexual assault without ever suggesting answers or influencing their memory. The investigators are experienced and trained to conduct interviews with children and teens. The objective of the interview is to provide a summary that’s as accurate as possible and to determine if a sexual assault has indeed taken place. This interview is recorded as proof and can be used if legal proceedings are undertaken. Following the interview, the investigator sends the file to a crown prosecutor, who determines whether charges will be filed.
If a child talks to you about a sexual assault, it is important to listen without questioning as long as legal proceedings are underway.
What is the medical exam for?
The medical exam serves to reassure the child and the parents about the child’s health. It also supports the steps undertaken with certain workers or investigators. During the exam, a doctor and a clinical nurse from Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine or Montreal Children’s Hospital assess the child’s overall health. The exam always considers the child’s consent and respects their needs.
What is the assessment?
The assessment determines what services will best meet the child’s needs. Carried out by clinical professionals, the assessment’s objectives are to:
- document the child’s state in the various spheres of their life (social, emotional, behavioural, school, family, etc.);
- evaluate their difficulties in relation to the sexual assault;
- identify their coping strategies or feelings in relation to the sexual assault;
- assess the parent’s capacity to support the child;
- assess the consequences of the sexual assault on the child and on the parents;
- recommend services that meet the child’s specific needs.
For the child’s needs to be assessed, the sexual assault must have been confirmed by the Director of Youth Protection or a police department.
What does the treatment provided to children consist of?
The treatment provided at Fondation Marie-Vincent is based on best practices and is recognized for its high effectiveness. It rests on a cognitive-behavioural approach centred on trauma resolution that encourages:
- expressing feelings;
- changing harmful thoughts into helpful thoughts;
- emotional management;
- expressing the child’s experience in relation to the sexual assault;
- identifying and changing erroneous thoughts about the sexual assault and about sexuality;
- acquiring knowledge about sexual assault and sexual education;
- developing self-affirmation and self-protection;
- strengthening communication skills.
After treatment, studies have shown that children exhibit:
- better self-esteem;
- fewer symptoms of anxiety;
- fewer symptoms of depression;
- fewer avoidance strategies;
- fewer symptoms of post-traumatic stress;
- fewer feelings of guilt;
- fewer symptoms of dissociation