Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
A hidden gem in East Alabama
0 Comments

A hidden gem in East Alabama

Nestled among a cluster of government buildings in Opelika, Ala., sits the Child Advocacy Center of East Alabama, in a quaint, homey building with a wide front porch. The comfort it projects stands both as a representation of and in stark contrast to its mission: to fight for children who are the victims of sexual and severe physical abuse by providing them a safe place to get help.

  • Updated
  • 0
{{featured_button_text}}

Nestled among a cluster of government buildings in Opelika, Ala., sits the Child Advocacy Center of East Alabama, in a quaint, homey building with a wide front porch. The comfort it projects stands both as a representation of and in stark contrast to its mission: to fight for children who are the victims of sexual and severe physical abuse by providing them a safe place to get help.

The building itself is a testament to its focus. Room after room resembles children's playrooms. One room features a miniature courtroom setup, to ease the child's anxiety and uncertainty of what court looks like, where each person sits and what takes place. Another room has board games, one has a chalkboard and still another has buckets of toys. The restrooms are even painted with colorful fish in the boys' and friends holding hands in the girls.'

The Child Advocacy Center of East Alabama serves Lee and Macon counties, benefitting children of abuse and their families in many invaluable ways. To fully comprehend their contribution, it's important to understand what these children would experience in the center's absence.

When child abuse is reported, the child is often asked to tell their story to law enforcement, the district attorney, the department of human resources and many others on separate occasions, causing stress and trauma to a child already in danger, according to Cleone Brock, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of East Alabama. "With our center, there is a partnership between all of these entities."

The center conducts forensic interviews on referral from law enforcement or the department of human resources, which means that these interviews are conducted by a trained interviewer and they are used in any legal proceedings resulting in the investigation.

Law enforcement, human resources and the DA observe the interview from a private room, separated from the interview by a two-way mirror. The child is aware their conversation is being watched and is asked to tell their story only once.

In addition to its forensic interviewing services, therapy is provided to the children and families involved in the cases free of charge. In 2008 alone, the center conducted 269 interviews and provided more than 500 hours of therapy at no cost.

The center is expecting a 25 to 30 percent increase in cases in 2009 because of the current economy. "When the economy is bad, there is more stress which leads to child abuse," Brock says.

Public awareness, parenting classes and training for community professionals are among the additional services provided by the Child Advocacy Center of East Alabama. "It's a multi-disciplinary team approach to child abuse and prosecution," Brock explains.

The center in Opelika is not the only one of its kind. More than 250,000 young victims find comfort and hope from the more than 600 children's advocacy centers operating in the United States each year.

Although it's not the only children's advocacy center, Alabama is home to the National Children's Advocacy Center. The NCAC was started in 1985 by Rep. Robert "Bud" Cramer, a district attorney at the time, who saw the many flaws and imperfections in dealing with cases of child abuse.

Cramer's concept created an organization that has spread across the nation, giving these children and their families help and comfort in a difficult process.

Find more videos like this on The Loveliest Village

0 Comments

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News

News Alert