The Bridge: 20th Anniversary - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

The Bridge: 20th Anniversary

Lt, Martin Birkenfeld,  Amarillo Police Department Lt, Martin Birkenfeld, Amarillo Police Department
Emily Ellis, The Bridge Emily Ellis, The Bridge

Amarillo, TX - Child abusers and sex offenders are being convicted more than ever in our area. The Bridge is celebrating 20 years of service to our communities children today, and child abuse is more of a problem in the Panhandle then many people know.

"We serve probably 1800 people every year. We listen to their stories and try to start the healing for those children," says the Bridge's President Marvin Bender.

The Bridge works by providing a comforting place for victims of child abuse. So they can tell their stories and not feel threatened.

"The Bridge provides an environment where they can talk about these things and feel a lot more comfortable. As a result it increases our ability to conduct a thorough investigation and prosecution if necessary," says Lt Martin Birkenfeld of the Amarillo Police Department.

They've been able to increase the conviction rate of child abusers from 65 to 97 percent since opening in 1989. Which the Amarillo Police Department says is an incredible help over the last 20 years.

Especially since the average sex offender reaches a staggering number of victims. "Between 75 and 150 victims in their lifetime. So you think about increasing the number of convictions and getting that many people off the street. Your protecting way more children then just one," says Emily Ellis of The Bridge.

And if that statistic doesn't show you how much child abuse affects our community then think about this. 86 percent of the children that come to the bridge are victims of sexual assault. 87 percent of those sexual assaults come from the parents.

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