Child advocacy group expands to combat abuse - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Child advocacy group expands to combat abuse

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A local child advocacy group is expanding to keep up with the growing rate and awareness of child abuse in our area.

Nearly 3 million child abuse cases are reported every year in the U.S. Right here in Amarillo, an advocacy group called The Bridge, is expanding to help combat this issue.

"It's a neutral child friendly place where children can come to be interviewed by someone who is trained in how to assess them and interview them appropriately for their age, to find out information when they have been a victim or witness to some type of crime," said April Leming, Executive Director.

The bridge first opened it's doors in 1989. It served as the first children's advocacy group in the state of Texas and currently provides services to all 26 counties in the Panhandle.

"In the beginning we used to interview on sexual abuse, primarily almost exclusively," Leming said. "But now we interview children who are victims of physical abuse, who have witnessed domestic violence, who have witnessed drug use, who have witnessed homicide."

Over $600,000 has been raised to help with construction efforts. The addition will include more office space and a larger education room so more people can be properly trained to help young abuse victims.

"We need to move forward in this direction in order to better meet the needs of children in our community, and to better meet the needs of our partner agencies as well as our staff," said Leming.

Construction is starting in the next week and is expected to be done by December, 2013.

Colleen Nelson, NewsChannel 10.