In 2009 there were approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports or allegations made involving over 6 million children (according to ChildHelp.org). Imagine how those children feel when they are interviewed in a police station by people they don’t know – sometimes by multiple people. I am sure it can be scary. Today’s organization is making a difference to these children.
In 1989, the CornerHouse organization was founded to provide a safe and welcoming environment where a child can be interviewed in these cases. The organization, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a public/private partnership with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the Minneapolis Police Department, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, suburban Hennepin County police departments, Hennepin County Human Services, Hennepin County Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Minnesota.
CornerHouse began out of a deep concern related to a series of cases in the late 1980s where children believed to have been abused were interviewed multiple times in settings that were not centered on the needs of the child. As a result, a legislative commission was formed and legislation was passed to create a system of forensic interviewing for children which were child centered and minimized the trauma to the children involved. This system also ensures procedural fairness to the accused and is legally credible.
The mission of CornerHouse is to assure that the voices of children are heard and understood in cases of alleged abuse. They meet this mission through forensic interviewing and family support services. In addition, they provide training to professionals from around the world in the CornerHouse Interview Protocol. Over the past 15 years, they have trained over 25,000 professionals in 49 states and 13 countries.
At CornerHouse, the child is the center of the process, not the case or anyone else involved. CornerHouse serves as neutral fact-finders where the well-being of children is their primary consideration. They provide a safe haven to talk about their experiences in cases where they are suspected victims or witnesses of abuse.
You can hear more about their interview protocol in this video:
How can you help?
CornerHouse has a variety of volunteer positions. Family Service volunteers attend to the needs of the child in the waiting area prior to interviews. Desk receptionists and training support is also needed on an ongoing basis. You can learn more about volunteer opportunities on their website.