New Orleans Children’s Advocacy Center

One of Tulane’s very own, Madeleine Hudak, interned at New Orleans Children’s Advocacy Center (NOCAC) this fall. NOCAC is a non-profit branch of the Children’s Hospital New Orleans. It is a facility devoted to helping children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse through investigation and individualized treatment. It is also dedicated to ending child abuse within the New Orleans community.

“NOCAC provides forensic medical examinations and forensic interviews for children that have been sexually abused. It’s more of a reactive as opposed to a preventative place,” Madeleine said. “It seemed like the best fit for me, in terms of what I wanted to do and what I could be doing there – in actually doing something useful.”

The NOCAC staff and interns work hard to help abused children and to improve their lives. Due to the size of the institution and the emotional toll of the work, it is important to have harmony and a sense of community between the NOCAC staff members. As Madeleine said, “It’s a lot of coexisting because you want to get everything done with every child at once and so everyone really needs to be interacting with one another and getting along with one another for things to happen.”

The NOCAC staff and interns work hard to help abused children and to improve their lives. Due to the size of the institution and the emotional toll of the work, it is important to have harmony and a sense of community between the NOCAC staff members. As Madeleine said, “It’s a lot of coexisting because you want to get everything done with every child at once and so everyone really needs to be interacting with one another and getting along with one another for things to happen.”

Under the training of the staff of NOCAC, Madeleine has been actively involved in the Center. Her responsibilities range from taking care of the children while their parents were interviewed to working on “Dear Parents,” a social media campaign that aims to inform parents about the link between physical discipline, its negative effect on brain development and behavioral patterns that may be seen later in life. She has also helped facilitate the “Darkness to Light” campaign, which is an interactive video training about sexual abuse. After completing the interactive training, Madeleine noted the impact it made upon her, saying that she “learned a lot” and that “it is really shocking because a lot of personal stories are shared on the video and it really makes it kind of hit you.” She also stated that “sexual abuse is a behavioral change rather than it is a physical change. There are physical signs that go along with it but sometimes it’s just really actively paying attention to children and noticing what slight things are going on, so you have to look at every child on an individual level.”

Strengthening her observational skills is not the only thing that Madeleine learned through her internship. The taxing nature and mental stress of the internship has helped increase her sense of responsibility towards vulnerable groups of people, and she has developed a strong support group made up of her internship supervisor, friends, and family. When asked what advice she would give to anyone thinking of working or interning with NOCAC, she said: “Be prepared for it to be a shock at first, if you’ve never worked in anything like this before. You will really get a lot out of it in the sense of getting a more heightened sense of responsibility. If this is something you’re really passionate about, it is a really good place to go and actually be of use. The first couple of weeks might be a shock so just make sure that you’re open with your friends and supervisors.”

Written by Haneen Islam, a freshman studying Political Science. Haneen is a student associate for the Public Service Internships and International Programs at CPS. 

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