SCRANTON — With a snip of a blue ribbon, the Teen Advocacy Center in Scranton officially opened Thursday afternoon.
Since the 1980′s, there has been a Children’s Advocacy Center in Scranton, which is a place for victims of alleged abuse and neglect.
Now, just a few doors down from that center is the Teen Advocacy Center, the first of its kind in the nation.
“It’s a separate building so we’re able to bring teenagers here, they don’t have to come to our other building which is much more child friendly, you know, and they’re going to feel safer here, they’re going to feel respected here, so that’s what we’re really excited about,” said Jennifer Aglialoro, the associate director of the Children’s Advocacy Center, trauma therapist and child forensic interviewer.
Geisinger Community Medical Center donated the property on Wheeler Avenue in Scranton for the teen center.
Inside is a reception area, a medical examination area and an interview room.
Investigators said having a private comfortable spot for teens to talk is key to bringing abusers to justice.
“First and foremost it has to be a good interview. Without a good interview we have nothing, you need a place like this that they can come here, feel comfortable, that they are confident that they can tell their story and we will listen and we can be trusted with it,” said Scranton Police Detective Vince Uher.
“Having them have the ability to come to a place like this where they can tell their story in the most comfortable setting, it really is invaluable,” said Lackawanna County special victims prosecutor Jennifer McCambridge.
Folks with the center said they have seen a 210% increase in abuse victims since 2004.
Last year, they said they helped 1,107 children with child abuse services.
“As the numbers grew and the need grew in epidemic numbers and we were receiving referrals from all counties in the region in addition to our home County, Lackawanna County, we knew we needed a bigger place, if not a second place,” said Mary Ann LaPorta, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center.
The Children’s Advocacy Center is a non-profit organization that helps children and teens throughtout Northeastern Pennsylvania.