McMahon/Ryan Advocacy Center may see highest number of abuse cases in its history

Says awareness of the issue helps make children feel more comfortable

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - Former Cicero-North Syracuse basketball star Breanna Stewart wrote an emotional essay for the Players' Tribune saying she was sexually abused.

She says the abuse began when she was 9 years old and continued for two years. Stewart eventually told her parents, her abuser was arrested and confessed to everything.

Over at the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, they say high-profile cases help raise awareness.

"If there's people that they relate to coming out with saying the same thing's happened to them, it makes it more okay for them to come forward too," said Maureen Foran-Mocete, Outreach & Education Program Coordinator, McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center.

In the center's near 20-year history, this year may mark the highest number of cases they've ever seen. In an average year, the see around 700 children, this year, they reached that number back in July and estimate--by the end of 2017--they'll see around a thousand.

"That doesn't necessarily mean that there's more abuse out there, it just means there's more awareness that children are telling that people are believing them and that they're getting to the right places to get the services that they need," said Foran-Mocete.

But the center says the awareness needs to continue, and it is up to parents to talk with their kids about the warning signs of sexual abuse.

"We're great at teaching kids about strangers, we're great at teaching kids how to ride a bike safely, cross the street safely, so this is another piece of being safe is teaching children that in very matter of fact ways at very young ages you know if anybody touches you in the private areas of your body, you can tell me," she said.

If you would like to reach the Advocacy Center, you can call 315-701-2985.

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