Everyone needs a safe haven

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 24, 2006

When a child is the victim of abuse, they face many obstacles.

They are traumatized, ashamed, in shock, and often in denial.

These young victims need a safe, comforting place where interviews take place, and where they wait to testify – sometimes against a family member.

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A Child Advocacy Center is set to open off Bell Road in early June.

With assistance from the district attorney’s office, the center was recently awarded a $48,500 grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

“Child abuse is a huge problem in the Black Belt,” said District Attorney Michael Jackson. “We wanted some kind of central location for children to tell what happened to them and also feel like action will be taken.”

Child abuse and neglect statistics from the Alabama Kids Count 2005 Data Book are unsettling.

The state’s 67 counties are ranked by category from best (first) to worst (67th). Dallas County ranks 14th in child abuse incidents. Bibb County ranks 45th, Hale County ranks sixth, Perry County ranks 48th and Wilcox County ranks 31st.

A child can be interviewed upwards of 30 times during the course of an investigation, according to investigators and therapists.

Hopefully, the Child Advocacy Center will provide a comforting environment in which the child can tell their story.

And feel safe.