It's 4 The Kids

Why I Chose To Help Abused Kids

By Tami

My first volunteer job was as a Guardian Ad Litem during college in Tallahassee, Florida. A Volunteer Guardian ad Litem is an individual who is appointed by the court to advocate for children who come into the court system primarily as a result of alleged abuse or neglect. At the time I got involved with the program I really didn’t understand the in-depth nature of it nor how it would forever change my outlook on the world.

 

One of the main tasks is the investigation portion (there are 4 steps). This requires you to carry out an objective, systematic examination of the situation, including relevant history, environment, relationships, and needs of the child. It also includes interviews with family, friends, neighbors and people at the child’s school. In my personal opinion this was the most difficult part because you had to hear the details surrounding why the child had been taken away from the family home. You almost have to learn how to be emotionally detached to a certain point prior to taking on something of this nature. However, you still need to have compassion and determination to help a child in this position and quite frankly that means being emotionally invested in the situation. Trying to do both is difficult to say the least!

 

Nothing can really prepare you for these types of stories although the training course required to be taken at the time was eye opening primarily due to the previous investigative stories discussed. They are too disturbing and graphic to write about here. I can never forget these stories due to the severity and unbelievable abuse inflicted upon these children. I know kids can try your patience at times but this was ridiculous and beyond my scope of understanding as to how a parent or person could inflict such heinous acts upon innocent, defenseless children. The younger they were the more difficult it was to comprehend. These stories included children that were babies and toddlers as well as very young kids. I remember crying throughout the training followed by having nightmares about the stories and photos. Statistics show that children in the first year of their life have the highest rate of victimization.

 

Although being a Guardian Ad Litem was difficult from this standpoint, these stories made me want to help as much as possible.

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