KidsNet partners with Atlanta area counseling center

A new partnership with KidsNet Newton and Rockdale will provide help to children and families with sexual issues.

KidsNet is teaming up with Medlin Treatment Center, a metro Atlanta counseling center, to offer individual and group counseling sessions at KidsNet offices, located at 2186 Elm St. in Covington.

KidsNet, which offers treatment services to various types of children and families, has worked with Medlin since its inception, but had to refer clients to Medlin's Stockbridge offices for treatment.

"We had so many people in Rockdale and Newton who weren't completing treatment because of transportation problems," said Chad Jones, system of care coordinator for KidsNet.

He said the long commute also was affecting school attendance for the children who were getting treatment at Medlin.

"The days they have sessions they might as well not go to school," Jones said. "You could literally miss a whole day of school."

After realizing the problem, KidsNet approached Medlin Treatment Center about opening an office for the Newton and Rockdale area, since it had offices in Stockbridge, Marietta and Cartersville.

Julie Medlin, director and licensed psychologist for the treatment center, said she was in support of the idea to bring services to the area as soon as KidsNet approached her about it, and even before that.

"I've been really impressed with KidsNet ... and their coordination with all of the agencies in the area. I think this could be a model for how counties should run as far as all of their agencies working together," she said about KidsNet partnering with local Division of Family and Children Services offices, the court and school systems and other county agencies. "That is just so important that everybody is working together. As psychologists, we feel like we are able to do better treatment when all of those come together."

Although there may be no real way to know how many children are dealing with sexual issues, as many don't even share their experiences with anyone, Medlin said there is a community need.

"About 90 percent of children who are sexually abused know who did it," she said. "And 30 to 50 percent of sexual abusers are under the age of 18."

Starting April 8, Medlin Treatment Center, which opened in April 1997 and currently services hundreds of children and adults with about 20 therapists, will offer services to Newton and Rockdale County children ages 3 to 18 with sexual issues.

The center will provide individual therapy sessions, as well as group sessions at 4 and

5 p.m. every Tuesday beginning April 8.

At first, Medlin will offer four group sessions, based on age and problems: sexually abused children ages 9 to 12, sexually abused teens ages 13 to 17, children acting out sexually ages 9 to 12 and teens acting out sexually ages 13 to 17.

"We will expand our schedule as needed," Medlin said. "We could add more (groups) as other groups are needed - we are going to base it on what the need is in the community."

In the group sessions, Medlin and Steven Knauts, who both have a Ph.D. and are licensed psychologists, will provide one hour to one and a half hours of counseling to children and their families.

During the sexual abuse survivors group, Medlin or Knauts will help the children cope with their thoughts and feelings about the abuse and overcome the negative effects, Medlin said.

In the group that helps the children who act out sexually, Medlin or Knauts will try to help them control their behavior.

"Also, we do involve parents in both of these treatments," Medlin said. "It's important (the parents) understand what their children are working on and how they can help them at home and send the right messages."

Medlin said the company will provide individual sessions to children who have sexual issues that do not fall into one of the groups that it offers now. Children who attend group sessions also may need to attend individual sessions if the psychologists feel they need extra help.

Medlin accepts Medicaid and other insurance plans, as well as out-of-pocket payments, for services.

Those interested in scheduling an appointment or finding out more information about Medlin should call 770-507-6044 or visit www.medlintc.com.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

Behavioral warning signs of possible child sexual abuse:

· Fear of certain people or places

· Nightmares, trouble sleeping or other extreme fears without an obvious explanation

· Play, writing, drawings or dreams may include sexual or frightening images

· Spacing out at odd times, seems distracted or distant, "checked out"

· Loss of appetite or trouble eating or swallowing or sudden changes in eating habits

· Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, anger, insecurity or withdrawal

· Leaves "clues" that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues

· Stomach illness all of the time with no identifiable reason

· An older child behaving like a younger child, such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking

· Adult-like sexual activities with toys or other children, such as simulating sex with dolls or asking other children/siblings to behave sexually

· New words for private body parts

· Shows resistance to bathing, toileting or removing clothes even at appropriate situations

· Refusing to talk about a "secret" he/she has with an adult or older child

· Talking about a new older friend

· Suddenly having money, toys or other gifts for no apparent reason

· Cutting, burning or otherwise intentionally harming herself or himself

· Has negative self image

Source: Stop It Now!