When Mayor Richard M. Daley announced Oct. 15 that the city would kick in $1.5 million to build the nation’s largest center for abused children, political hopefuls vowed to find funding for the $4.75 million facility. These commitments follow The Chicago Reporter’s January 1998 report revealing that support services for victims of child sexual assault–”1,650 in 1996 alone–”are spread thin in Cook County. The city plans to construct the facility at 13th Street and Damen Avenue; it will open in 2000. And public officials are taking a new look at the Illinois Children’s Advocacy Center Act of 1989 as a possible source of additional funding.
Last April, Monique came to school the way she did most days, with books in hand and a razor blade in her mouth. The 14-year-old believed the razor, held precariously under her tongue, would protect her from the dangers of her neighborhood near the Cabrini-Green public housing development. Monique, who asked that her real name not be used because she fears disciplinary action, is now a sophomore at a Chicago public high school. She began carrying the razor last winter, she said, after a man made sexual advances to her on her way to school. On that April day, a school security officer saw her pull the razor from her mouth and took her to the principal’s office.