While many children remain quarantined during this COVID-19 pandemic, there is growing concern about possible abuse in some homes.
“We are about helping children receive justice, after they’ve been victimized by violent crime,” BRCAC Executive Director Toni Bankston said. “And then the second part of the mission is also about helping children have healing and recovery.”
Since 2002, the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center has been serving local youth caught in nightmare realities.
Bankston added, “More people than not have had some sort of childhood adversity or trauma that they’ve lived through, so one of our messages is actually to promote awareness to people that this is something that’s common This is something that can happen to any child, even with the best of parents or the best of families.”
Each year the CAC responds to 600 new victims in the Greater Baton Rouge Area.
Children like Madison Henderson, who was sexually abused by her step-father when she was 12-years old.
“You think to yourself, especially when it happens you your first thought is, how did this happen to me?” Madison Henderson said. “How did you know what is this one in a billion chance that I happen to be, you know, this victim that I happen to be his choice.”
After an exhausting and emotional legal process, Madison received support from the CAC, embracing a survivor’s mentality.
“I get here and it’s kind of like, I was normalized, it was something they deal with every day something that they had experience with, and I could get help and it was, it was a little you know overwhelming at first, but eventually it became somewhat of a safe place where I can talk about whatever I’m wanting to talk about.”
Now the CAC offers even more resources, including a new therapy center.
“This new building does is it gives kids an opportunity to be in a separate private space, and they don’t have to return to the original building where their crime was investigated,” Bankston said.
The addition was funded by money raised with the center’s annual Celebrity Waiter Event. This year’s fundraiser went virtual with its mission as important as ever.
Bankston added, “We’ve been told to expect some, some cuts in federal funding over the next couple of years. So while this is a challenging year with COVID. It’s an extremely important year from a fundraising perspective because we want to prepare to come.”