How many children receive services?

Bridgehaven CAC typically sees 12-15 children per month for forensic interviews, and will be involved in tracking about 50 cases per month.

Does the videotape take the place of a child having to testify?

No. According to the confrontation clause in the U.S. constitution, it is the defendant's rights to be able to cross examine their accuser. It can serve as a prior consistent statement in addition to the child’s testimony at the time of trial. The main advantage of videotaping an interview is to eliminate the need for the child to be interviewed multiple times by law enforcement, CPS, prosecutors and the defense. The videotape can be passed around instead of the child.

How is Bridgehaven funded?

Bridgehaven is funded through a variety of sources. They receive funding from Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas (CACTX) which is the parent organization that oversees all CACs in Texas. They are also receiving a grant from the state of Texas through the Attorney General’s Office, funding from both Liberty and Chambers counties, City of Cove, Victims of Crime Act federal grants (VOCA), as well as private donations from businesses and individuals within the community. 
 
Who is allowed to watch the interview?

Investigators and Bridgehaven Staff are the only people allowed to watch the interview as it is taking place. Immediately following the interview, investigators will meet with the family to talk about what took place during the interview and what the next steps will be. Parents and/or guardians are not allowed to watch the video for two main reasons (1) the child is made aware of who will be watching the video, and knowing that parents would be watching may inhibit the child from speaking due to wanting to protect the parent from hearing what occurred and (2) many times the investigators will want to take a statement from the parent about what the child told them before the interview, and do not want what the child originally told the parent and what is said during the interview to become confused.

Do children know that they are being videotaped during the interview?

Yes. We want the child to be informed about everything that is going on. Before the interview begins, the interviewer will show the child where the camera is, explain why a videotape is made (so the child does not have to be interviewed by each agency involved in the investigation), and who will be observing the interview.

How long does the interview process take?

To complete the entire process, which includes meeting with the parent or guardian prior to the interview, the interview of the child, and meeting with the parents following the interview, takes approximately an hour to an hour and a half. An interview usually takes approximately 20 - 30 minutes, for each child, and meeting with parents takes approximately another 30 minutes.

How is a forensic interview different from a therapeutic interview?

A forensic interview is a fact finding interview which is conducted when there has been a report of abuse. The questions in a forensic interview are very closely monitored not to lead the child in any way. The child will have one forensic interview and then will be referred for counseling following the interview.
 

What Can I Do As A Parent?

  1. KNOW your children's friends, families, caregivers, youth group leaders, teachers, any person spending time alone with your child.

  2. TEACH your child names for their private parts, and that they have the right to say NO. Never make your child submit to physical contact if they do not want to.

  3. LISTEN when your child tells you he or she does not want to be with or go with someone else.

  4. UNDERSTAND that no one should want to be with your child more than you. When someone is showing your child too much attention, ask yourself why. Listen to your intuition.

  5. EXPLAIN to your child who a "someone" is, when you say to them, "Tell me if someone looks at or touches you on your private places."

  6. USE the word "Surprise" instead of "Secret" with your children. Teach them to tell you when any adults ask them to keep a secret.

  7. DO NOT put your child's first name on clothing or school books. This puts your child on a first name basis with anyone.

  8. HAVE a code word that only you and your child know, to be used in an emergency.

  9. TELL your children that when away from home, if they feel scared or uncomfortable, they have the right to use the telephone without anyone's permission.

  10. BELIEVE your children if they say they have been abused. Encourage them to ask questions if they are confused or not sure if something is okay or not.

How to Talk To a Child about Abuse

  • MAKE A REPORT TO EITHER OF THE FOLLOWING:
    Children's Protective Services: 1-800-252-5400 or local law enforcement.

  • DO NOT question the child. If they wish to talk, listen – but do not press them for details.

  • Be patient, calm and supportive.

  • Under-react. Listen without criticism, anger or judgment.

  • Watch your own non-verbal cues. Facial expression and body language.

  • Don't introduce or suggest names.

 

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR NEED ADVICE, CONTACT BRIDGEHAVEN!