Angelina County Courthouse has safe room for children testifying

Angelina County Courthouse has safe room for children testifying

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Just a couple weeks ago, children of Angelina County only had the option to sit on a cold bench while waiting to take the stand.

Ashley Cook said, "Sometimes they had to sit there for hours."

That all changed today after the Children's Advocacy Center and Harold House cut the ribbon presenting the children's waiting area. This room was added to take a little bit of the trauma out of testifying in a courthouse.

Angelina County Children's Advocacy Center was one of three to win a Women of Courage contest, and the 15,000 dollar grant brought this room to life.

The grant to fix up the children's waiting area came at a crucial time. According to Cook, there's been a rise in the number of children facing child abuse, neglect, or sexual assault in deep East Texas.

"...Not because more abuse is happening, but because of more awareness as we educate the community on dealing with these situations," said Cook.

The room has been fully upgraded with toys, movies, IPads, and even has twenty-four hour surveillance.

This is an attempt to turn a child's appearance in court into a safe play day.

"They're here to do a very scary thing, to sit in front of a judge, a jury, and their abusers."

"The mission as a C.A.C. (Child Advocacy Center) is to lesson their trauma as they go through the process in a system that was never designed for them," said Cook.

The children's waiting area opened for immediate use today.

Angelina county supporters and partners were present and pleased with the comfortable space.

Family Crisis Center employees say they believe the kids will enjoy the IPads in the room the most.

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