AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) —Ever since the late 1980’s, The Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center has made it their mission to help simplify the process for children following a traumatic situation.
“It’s a safe place and it’s a place for us to really provide that opportunity for the children,” said Shelly Bohannon, The Bridge Executive Director.
That opportunity is for area children to feel comfortable and be heard effectively following an outcry incident. The Bridge was the first child advocacy center in Texas.
“It’s developed and designed to minimize children being passed around to different professionals. So those working the investigation of child abuse, neglect or whatever the issue might be at hand. Those investigators come here to The Bridge along with the family. All of that information is gained at the same time so that all of the questions can be answered and the child does not have to keep coming back to the police department or children’s protective services to provide that information,” said Bohannon.
Bohannon says the process begins with their trained forensic interviewers talking with the victim in a recorded non-leading child appropriate manner.
“Each of those professionals get a copy of that interview, so should they need to remember what that child had to say, they can go back and watch that video recording. We make that referral for the child to go to a professionally trained counselor who works with children coming out of a trauma event and help that child come back to a normal,” said Bohannon.
Bohannon says they interviewed a little more than 1,000 children last year. Prior to serving at her current position of Executive Director at the Bridge, Bohannon spent 17 years as a forensic interviewer there and says what they do can change people’s lives for the better, one step at a time.
“I have interviewed thousands and thousands of children and it’s an honor to be able to sit in this room with children ages two to 17 and them trust me with their deepest, darkest, scariest stories and events. It’s an honor to be able to sit down and help these children and help these families to be able to walk through probably one of the scariest time that they may encounter and it’s a blessing, absolutely,” said Bohannon.
For more information on what The Bridge provides to area children and their families, click here: https://www.bridgecac.org/