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Child Advocacy Center hosts 'A Chocolate Affair'

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Pinwheels spin in the breeze at a unique garden presented by the Child Advocacy Center on West Main Street. Each pinwheel represents a child in Wilson County helped by the organization. DALLUS WHITFIELD / The Wilson Post

The 15th Judicial District Child Advocacy Center raised funds for their programs with a new spin on "A Chocolate Affair."

The seasoned fund raiser, which has traditionally been a come-and-go, all-you-can-eat chocolate experience, was revamped by adding a production of "Death by Dessert" at the Capitol Theatre on Saturday night. The Encore Theatre Company performed the play as guests enjoyed a plated meal catered by Sammy B's and dipped treats in a decadent white and milk chocolate fountain.

Although there was much fun and comradery at the event, Assistant District Attorney General Jason Lawson, who serves as Assistant Treasurer on the CAC Board of Directors, reminded folks of the CAC's mission.

"We all know that it is difficult to be a victim of a crime," he began. "But it is even harder when it's a physical or sexual abuse type of crime - and very hard when it's involving children."

Lawson continued that young victims often fear that they are not going to be believed or have a fear that there is going to be repercussions. Thankfully, in 1985 a District Attorney in Huntsville, Alabama, noticed the trauma investigations were causing child victims and developed a Child Advocacy Center.

"What they found was that children had to relive the event over and over again. It was counterproductive of the individuals working the cases," Lawson explained.

Nowadays there are 900 Child Advocacy Centers across the United States - 48 of which are located and serve children in Tennessee.

"At these centers, important work is being done," Lawson said. The different agencies, which could include law enforcement, the school system, mental health professionals, child services and more, share information and work in cooperation as a team.

"It makes investigations better and reduces trauma," he said. "Instead of each agency interviewing, there is a single forensic interview at the Child Advocacy Center, monitored in a separate room where law enforcement and service workers can observe. The interview is preserved to be shared with mental health counselors and others who need it to complete their jobs."

The CAC also goes into the community to help detect and prevent child abuse. The 15th Judicial District CAC Director Nancy Willis frequently trains the community on red flags to look for that child abuse may be occurring.

For more information on the CAC visit cac15.org. April is national Child Abuse Prevention month.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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15th Judicial District, A Chocolate Affair, Capitol Theatre, Child Advocacy Center, children, event, fundraiser
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