In Baltimore, groups work to care for victims of sexual abuse, bring abusers to justice, and educate the community.
In June 1995, a group of professionals working to prevent child sexual abuse and to deal with its consequences organized a reception to meet each other and exchange ideas. From that reception, the Baltimore Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse was born.
This coalition now includes more than 100 groups, from the Baltimore City Police to Parents Anonymous (including some organizations, like the city school system, that were not set up to work with victims of sexual abuse, but have found themselves doing so). In its first year of existence, the Alliance has helped make significant improvements in abuse prevention, investigation, and after-care. It has also provided a forum for different agencies working with children and offenders to streamline the care they provide.
Twenty years ago, at the beginning of the effort to deal with child sexual abuse, a relatively small number of people were working on the problem, and they were able to discuss issues with relative ease. Since then, however, "we all became more specialized and divided," says Alliance organizer Rus Funk of the Sexual Abuse Treatment Center, a community-based organization that provides treatment for sexual offenders. "Funding sources have also become more specialized, which leads to division and competition for money. But competing isn't going to help us."