HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The Myrtle Beach Police Department and the Children’s Recovery Center have signed an agreement to create a multi-disciplinary team approach to investigate suspected child maltreatment cases.

In Horry County, 375 kids were referred to the Children’s Recovery Center for psychical, sexual and malnourishment abuse last year.

Louise Carson, the director of the Children’s Recovery Center, said the center is seeing more children each year because children are learning that it is ok to tell people if they are being hurt.  She said the average age of an abused child in Horry County is 10 years old.

About 58% of the children it saw in 2021 were caucasian, 23% were African American and 16% were Hispanic.

For a victim to be referred to the center, law enforcement, a health specialist and social services must send in a referral.

Myrtle Beach police department will escort the victims to the children’s recovery center to get a forensic medical exam and interview.

Instead of police doing the interview, they are usually given by the center’s staff, and officials can watch it live so children don’t have to tell the story twice.

Carson said this allows the child to be in a comfortable atmosphere instead of a police station, the stories are so horrific that officials don’t want to traumatize the child by having them recite it more than once.

If the child’s testimony makes a case, police can make an arrest and have the accused put in jail.

“This is what amazes me, they’re like little warriors,” Carson said. “They tell these horrific stories about what happened to them in their lives, but they are still resilient, still kids and they still want to pick out a toy from our shelf.”

The center meets with officials at the end of every month to discuss all their cases from that month and improvements within the partnerships.

“MBPD of course helps by bringing the children here by making the referral to the Children’s Recovery Center, and the most important thing about that is that’s the first step in the child’s healing,” said Carson.

All the resources offered by the center are free of charge.