SARTELL -- A center designed to help children who have been abused is asking for your support. The Central Minnesota Child Advocacy Center in Sartell will be hosting a fundraising event Friday.

The center gives children a safe place to talk about their abuse incidents with professionals. Peggy Carlson is a Community Advocate Partner for the Central Minnesota Child Advocacy Center. She says before the center was created children would often have to talk about their abuse story with an average of 15 people at different organizations. Since the facility was created in late 2016, now children have a different experience.

"They come in the door, they tell their story and they have their medical exam. The child advocacy center is set up so it can do forensic interviews. There's a collaborative effort between child protection, county attorneys, and law enforcement. All of them have input by a closed circuit to the interviewer."

The interviewer is a professional forensic interviewer. Carlson says because they have all of these services under one roof, a child usually only has to tell their story one time. She says this limits the amount of trauma the child has to go through and helps the child know they are being taken seriously.

All children going through the Central Minnesota Child Advocacy Center have been referred by law enforcement. Carlson says the subject of child abuse continues to be challenging to talk about and many times people like to think it can't happen in their community.

"Unfortunately it does, one out of 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, nationwide 45 percent of those children are under the age of six. That seems overwhelming but when we add to that it's well known only 10 percent of the children that are abused are those abuses reported."

Carlson says that 90 percent of the time the abuser is a caregiver or someone the child knows

To help bring awareness to the issue the center is hosting the event, Stand For Kids - Plant the Seeds. The fundraiser will be Friday, at Regency Plaza in downtown St. Cloud. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a social hour and the program starts at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $60 and proceeds go directly to supporting the center.

Patty Wetterling will be the keynote speaker. Carlson says since Jacob Wetterling's case has been solved it's brought more awareness to the issue and the center has been able to expand its reach to include Benton County.

The Central Minnesota Child Advocacy Center is funded through grants and donations. It works in partnership with CentraCare Health.

If you can't make it to the event you can still make a donation, for donation information follow the link below.

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