April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and public awareness events are taking place all across the United States.
On Tuesday, students from the Dumas Leo Club and National Honor Society showed their support by placing pinwheels on the Courthouse lawn. The pinwheels were provided by The Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center and are part of an area awareness campaign called Pinwheels for Prevention.
Jackie Mikeska, the Outreach Coordinator for The Bridge, says “The pinwheels represent the number of children who are interviewed at The Bridge each year.”
The Dumas students placed 64 pinwheels on the southwest courthouse lawn to represent the 64 Moore County children who told their story of abuse in 2020. A Blue Chain Display representing the 64 Moore County children will also be on display at the Moore County YMCA until the end of April.
The Bridge is a comprehensive, child-focused program that offers a highly effective, one-stop approach to child abuse investigation. The Bridge opened its doors in Amarillo in 1989 and was Texas’ first Children’s Advocacy Center.
The facility allows law enforcement, child protective services, prosecutors, and the mental health and medical communities to work together to best serve victims of child abuse and sexual assault. The center offers a comfortable, private, child-friendly setting where forensic interviews and sexual exams can be conducted.
In 1984, the Coalition for Child Abuse Prevention, formed by agencies serving children in the Texas Panhandle, recognized that the system in place to address child abuse was, in many cases, re-victimizing the very children it was intended to help.
Children were being bounced from professional to professional to tell and retell their story thus evoking stress, in some cases the children were interrogated instead of questioned. Court cases were often lost due to a lack of comprehensive case management practices.
Under the guidance of The Bridge, law enforcement agencies, Child Protective Services, medical professionals and the judicial system came together in a memorandum of understanding, establishing the first Case Review Team in the state of Texas.