According to their website, http://cjc.ironcounty.net/, the mission of the CJC is to, “…provide a child-friendly atmosphere designed to help children feel safe and comfortable when they are interviewed regarding alleged abuse.”
Rather than interview the victim multiple times, CJC uses video and audio technology to record the interview in a safe, home-like setting that allows the interviewee to relax and open up during the process said Justice Center Director Stephanie Furnival.
Run for the Kids has become an annual event for the CJC, and Furnival said not only is the event anticipated, but the funds raised are incredibly important to the operation of the center. Since the inception of the popular fundraiser, she said the race has brought in an average of $5,000 per year.
“That helps us to take care of any needs that any of the families of the victims may have,” she said. “Providing court services, making sure that every family has a parent packet – which goes over all of the information about what everybody’s role is, how the court process goes, what resources are available – as well as, we refer victims out to get mental health assistance and medical exams.”
She said that before the CJC was in the setting it resides in today, children were interviewed in an office at the Iron County Correctional Facility. Whether it is physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence exposure, drug endangerment, or any other allegations that involve a child, Furnival said they are brought the CJC to be interviewed by both a forensic investigator and a Child Protective Services agent.
“Law enforcement and Child Protective Services actually do a joint interview,” she said. “They have to they have to go through a very extensive and rigorous training before they are even allowed near the children here at the center.
“There is a guideline that is followed, because it needs to be very clean, and very sterile,” she added.
She said interviewers were not allowed to ask any leading questions, and that it was important to let children tell their side of the story from their own perspective, so they employed certain open-ended techniques to ensure there is no interjected bias.
Though the center receives funding from the state to help run operations, Furnival said they barely cover the overhead to run the CJC.
Dr. Robert Dowse of Premier Pediatric said he is happy and proud to be a sponsor for an event that raises awareness and funds to help such an important part of the community. He said his staff will be there on race day to hand out water to exhausted runners when it's all over, but he isn't sure if he will have a staff team this time.
"We have done it in the past, but I am not sure it will work out this year," he said.
According to a press release this year’s Run for the Children will begin Saturday at 8 a.m. in front of the CJC, 545 S. 225 East, Cedar City, Utah, off of Altamira Drive. Registration will remain open right up until the race begins, but those who register before Saturday will receive a discount.
The release reported that the CJC is allowing teams of five or more runners to enter together, and will be charging a discounted rate to them as well.
Awards will be presented to the first three places in each age division with a trophy going to the overall winner. This year’s grand prize is a Kindle Fire, which will be given out at the conclusion of the race after all of the runner’s information is tallied by the judges.
The Iron County Children’s Justice Center services victims of abuse in Iron, Beaver, Garfield and Kane counties. More information about the CJC is available online at http://cjc.ironcounty.net/
To register for the 5K/ Quarter Marathon – Run for the Children contact Stephanie Furnival at the Iron County Children’s Justice Center, (435) 867-4275, or go here: https://www.active.com/event_detail.cfm?event_id=2126816