Brighter World Child Advocacy Center eases trauma for abused, neglected children
Brighter World Child Advocacy Center
Editor’s note: Names and identifying information have been changed to protect confidentiality.
Molly and I walked through the half-constructed halls and taped out offices of what would soon be Brighter World Child Advocacy Center. I pointed out where the family room would be and our plans to decorate it as a safe and welcoming space for young victims and their families.
Molly, barely 13 at the time, followed me into the designated interview room space. I described how children and teens would soon be able to come to this room to report allegations of abuse or crime to a trained interviewer in a comfortable setting. Molly stood in silence for a moment, giving her attention to every imaginary wall and corner of the space.
“It would have been really great to have had this when I reported what happened to me,” she said.
Brighter World opened its doors in August 2021, providing an array of services to victims of child abuse and their families throughout Moffat, Routt and Grand counties. Now, the interview room is warmly lit with two big comfy chairs, welcoming art on the walls, two cameras to record the conversation and is protected with soundproof panels to ensure privacy. While forensic interviewing is one of the fundamental services provided at Brighter World, it is still a mystery to most.
A forensic interview is the first step in investigations of crimes involving children. This includes, but is not limited to, allegations of child physical and sexual abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic violence or other violent crimes, and teen sexual assault. After a report is made to law enforcement or the Department of Human Services, the child and their family are referred to Brighter World where the child meets one-on-one with a specially trained forensic interviewer.
The interviewer takes time to get to know the child, investing in their likes and dislikes, family structure and hobbies. The interviewer carefully explains that their conversation is recorded and observed by detectives and caseworkers who are all there to make sure the child is safe, not to get them in trouble.
When they get to the allegation in question, each question asked by the interviewer is carefully crafted to be open-ended, non-leading and free of bias. The conversation is designed to meet the specific age, developmental and emotional needs of each child. This allows them to share information about an event they may have experienced in a legally sound manner that avoids additional trauma.
Observing in a separate room, the investigative agencies are carefully listening to the child to inform and direct their investigation, and to assess the immediate safety of a child. While the results of a forensic interview may help determine whether criminal charges are brought against the alleged offender, it can also serve as a step toward healing for the child and their caregivers.
The services provided by Brighter World, including forensic interviewing and ongoing family support, are an essential component of a comprehensive response to allegations of child abuse. We are thrilled to be a resource to Moffat, Routt, and Grand County families.
For more information, please visit our website brighterworldcac.org or reach out to email@example.com.
Julia Luciano-Burns is the program manager and forensic interviewer at Brighter World Child Advocacy Center.
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