• Shannon McLaughlin

Stepping Up To Stop Child Abuse in Philadelphia

Ceisler’s Shannon McLaughlin explains how the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance protects the city’s children – and how you can help.


Everyone who works with Philadelphia Children’s Alliance will tell you that abuse can happen anywhere. In 2020, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance responded to over 2,000 reports of child abuse, providing services to children and families in each of Philadelphia’s zip codes. Overall, one in 10 children is sexually abused by his or her 18th birthday.


This April marks Child Abuse Prevention Month. Philadelphia Children’s Alliance is working to drive those statistics down by preventing cases of child maltreatment, as well as providing justice and healing services to victims. The organization serves as a sanctuary for victims of sexual abuse in Philadelphia, providing critical mental health, forensic and medical services each day.


You can support PCA by purchasing tickets to the Annual Bear Affair on May 6th, ensuring they will be able to continue to care for children who have been sexually abused, no matter what. For tickets and information, click here.


PCA works in conjunction with a range of partners—the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit, the District Attorney’s Office, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Together they provide a victim-centered approach to every child who reports sexual abuse in Philadelphia at their facility, known as the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative. All six organizations are dedicated to working together to support sexually abused children, ending the cycle of abuse, protecting children who have experienced sex trafficking, and improving the quality of abuse investigations.


On any given day, PCA may provide support to a child witness of a homicide, or a victim of child abduction or human trafficking. It may respond to an instance of sexual abuse or assault which has occurred in the last 72 hours. Last year, PCA conducted 2,390 forensic interviews, performed 651 medical exams, and provided onsite therapy to 120 newly referred children.


When COVID-19 descended on Philadelphia, PCA’s staffers adapted quickly, never closing their doors to children and families in need of care and services. In addition, they quickly pivoted to provide remote services, upgrading their technology to stay in contact with kids and their caregivers, and continuing valuable counseling services.


Now, PCA is focused on the prevention of future cases of child maltreatment. Staffers are working to raise awareness among parents and kids about prevalent issues like human trafficking, and conducting targeted outreach to neighborhoods in need of their services. They urge parents to be active in their child’s virtual social life – paying careful attention to who they interact with on mobile apps and video games. Their work has drawn the attention of Councilmember Maria Quinones-Sanchez, who praised PCA’s partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Human Services as part of a resolution recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.


Philadelphia Children’s Alliance serves as a sanctuary for victims of sexual abuse in Philadelphia, providing critical mental health, forensic and medical services each day. Through Child Abuse Prevention Month and beyond, they continue to advocate for a healthy and safe environment for all of the city’s children and urge Philadelphians to act as watchdogs for abuse in their communities.


Again, you can help with this great effort by buying tickets to the May 6 Bear Affair.

Shannon McLaughlin is a Senior Account Executive in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office.

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