Great Bend’s Lodge 23 of the Fraternal Order of Police Thursday met with representatives of the Childrens Advocacy Center to finalize a donation of $500. The donation came at exactly the right time, said CAC coordinator Sarah Schenek.
“We’re so thankful because we’d just begun talking about writing a grant for these dolls when the offer was made,” she said. “Our secretary said we had a visitor, and a member of the Fraternal Order of Police had stopped by to let us know they were making this donation to us. It was such perfect timing.”
Jay Bacher, president of F.O.P. Lodge 23, said the organization picked the C.A.C. because the work the center does makes their lives easier. The F.O.P. is made up of members from all county law enforcement agencies, and all utilize the center as needed.
“We’re a non profit, but we are part of the law enforcement process,” Schenek explained. Law enforcement utilizes the C.A.C. in many types of cases, including sexual and physical assault, witness testimony, drug in the home and neglect.
Sometimes, young children find it easier to tell their stories using dolls, because they are not as skilled yet in descriptively telling their stories, Schenek said. Often, children have nick-names for body parts, or do not know what different sexual acts are called.
“In one videotaped interview we saw at a training event, interviewers learned there was abuse to a younger sister, too, because there were dolls available for the victim to manipulate,” Schenek said.
The center was able to purchase a family of four dolls, with neutral skin and hair colors and styles to start off with. There is a mother, a father, a daughter and a son, each with modern but neutral looking clothing, neutral facial expressions, tongues that can remain in the mouth or be pulled out, and anatomically correct body openings and external organs. Each outfit includes age appropriate underwear.
The dolls aren’t cheap, with a price tag of $395 for the set of four, plus tax, shipping and handling.
“They’re tools, and they aren’t used every day,” Schenek said.
As funding becomes available, the center hopes to expand the collection of dolls to include white, black and asian families, grandparents and babies.
“If we know who the perpetrator is in an event, we will be able to have a representative doll available,” she said.
But the dolls are not the first tools used. There are a series of interview steps victims or witnesses go through during the initial handling of the case. If a disclosure is made, that is when it is determined if the dolls would be a useful tool.
The remainder of the funds will be used to replenish supplies at the center.
Bacher and F.O.P secretary Bill Paden said the local lodge is completely donation driven, and those donations are pumped right back to the community each year. In addition to this donation, the group is also behind the “Shop with a Cop” program and several others.