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Safe Harbor seeks to reduce the trauma to children who are victims of abuse or neglect or witnesses to crimes, by promoting the coordination of multi-disciplinary investigations, conducting forensic interviews in a child-friendly environment, and providing ongoing advocacy to affected children and families.
When a law enforcement officer or child protection worker suspects that a child has been victimized or witnessed a crime, they need to know that the child is safe. Prior to Safe Harbor opening its doors in 1999, a child would have been interviewed multiple times not only by law enforcement and child protection workers, but also potentially by medical professionals, a counselor, and a prosecuting attorney.
Safe Harbor provides a safe and friendly place for a child to talk about what has happened to them, so that hopefully the child will be interviewed only once. Safe Harbor brings professionals together from all the agencies involved with a case, and the child talks to a highly trained interviewer. The statement is recorded, and if charges are filed, the recorded statement may be used in court in place of the child's testimony.
Staff at Safe Harbor not only coordinate the video recorded forensic interviews, but also coordinate mental health services for children and families who have come to Safe Harbor.