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Advocating for neighborhood children: The Oak House expands to Bainbridge

Posted at 6:37 PM, Jan 29, 2024

  • As of January 1 the advocacy group is officially a stand alone organization in Bainbridge.
  • The non-profit serves five South Georgia counties which include Decatur, Grady, Mitchell, Baker and Calhoun counties.
  • Watch the story to learn more about the people working to guide those who have experienced abuse.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

The National Children's Alliance reports that more than 600,000 children in the United States are abused each year.

Now, a South Georgia non-profit is fighting to lower that number.

"As someone that is so innocent going through something so traumatic… When they walk through our doors I want them to know they have someone to lean on,” said Sarah Beth Harris, a victim advocate and service coordinator for The Oak House Children’s Advocacy and sexual assualt center.

Advocates tell me spreading awareness can be difficult when it comes to having tough conversations in a effort to stop child abuse…

"Don't ever think it can't happen in your home,” according to Amy Eakin, executive ditector, Oak House Children's Advocacy Center."We do encourage you to have these conversions with your children."

The non-profit services five south Georgian counties which include Decatur, Grady, Mitchell, Baker and Calhoun counties.

In Eakin's 13 years with Oak House this has added up to —-

The Oak House initially opened back in 2007.

They have expanded services to Bainbridge in connection with the District Attorney's Office.

They're were previously under Lily Pad SANE Center Incorporated.

Than's an organization that also supports survivors of abuse and neglect.

In 2022 Oak House served 243 victims.

The Decatur County Sherrif's office reports there were 8 cases of child molestation in 2023.

With those numbers mind, I asked Eakin what their core mission is.

"To establish a mutual agreement with community members…To help fight against this

As of January 1 the advocacy group is officially a stand alone organization here in Bainbridge.

The big difference is donations can go 100 percent towards Oak House initiatives.

The team also has it's own building to connect with the community.

"I have always had a passion to help others. I love kids.. I've always loved kids,” Harrison.

She explained how she guides them through services which could vary from: forensic medical exams, mental health counseling, court proceedings and even educating the community on how to handle reports of child abuse.

Harrison said when it comes to Oak House services people don't know what's available until after the abuse has taken place..

"Most people do not know that we are here and this is something that is needed,” said Harrison.

A need for support and education.

"Teach them about their body parts-the proper names for their body parts. Teach them about secrets that are okay and not okay to keep,” said Eakin.

The Oak House partners with law enforcement and the Department of family and children's services on a regular basis to ensure the success of survives of child abuse and neglect.

To find out more about the advocacy group here.