Bikers clad in black, leather and tattoos will be in town, starting today, rallying against child abuse and raising money for professionals who help its victims.
The two-day long, 7th-annual Thunder in the Pines Motorcycle Rally begins today and all proceeds benefit the Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties Child Advocacy Center.
Last year's event raised $3,371.
Becky Cunio, forensic interviewer, said the office works to investigate and prosecute physical and sexual abusers, as well as counsel children who are witnesses of violent crimes.
She said it works to provide a safe, neutral, child-friendly environment where law enforcement, Child Protective Services, prosecution, medical and mental health professionals come together in a coordinated, collaborative effort to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect in a manner that is child-focused.
“Prior to the creation of the Children's Advocacy Center, children were being pushed into a justice system that did not meet them on their level,” Cunio said. “The justice system is scary enough for adults, I can't imagine (what it's like) as a child.”
Cunio said the process begins with a forensic interview, performed by a clinically licensed psychologist.
“The forensic interview is the child's opportunity to share their story,” she said. “It's an opportunity to determine whether allegations of abuse can be substantiated or not.”
The center also provides family advocacy and counseling.
“Often when allegations arise, that changes the family dynamic,” she said. “It's essential that we provide a support system so we can encourage protective parents to remain that way. We provide resources and information to keep them protective and help them maintain as much normalcy in their day-to-day lives as they can.”
Cunio said the issue is hard to talk about, but affects a large number of people. She said in Texas, 185 children become victims of child abuse each day, last year 65,000 cases of abuse were confirmed in Texas, and national estimates show one in four girls and one in six boys will be abused by their 18th birthday.
In Cherokee County, 220 children received first-time services from the center last year.
“That means that every one of us in some way in connected to another human life that has been impacted by child abuse,” she said. “If it's not us, then I guarantee within our circle of friends we can identify one person who has been impacted.”
Students get first-hand look at healthcare professions
They came. They observed. They learned.Continued ...
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