Gonzales Regional Children's Advocacy Center
Serving Gonzales & Lavaca Counties
FAQ's
How many children receive services at Norma's House?
In 2013, we saw over 200 children.  
We are involved in tracking about 30 - 40 cases a month.  

Does the videotape take the place of a child having to testify?
No.  According to the confrontation clause in the U.S. Constitution, it is the
defendant's right to be able to cross examine their accuser.  The video can serve
as a prior consistent statement in addition to the child's testimony at the time of
trial.  The main advantage of videotaping an interview is to eliminate the need for
the child to be interviewed multiple times by law enforcement, CPS, prosecutors
and the defense.  The videotape can be passed around instead of the child.

How is Norma's House funded?
Norma's House is funded through a variety of sources.  We receive funding from
Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas (CACTX), which is the parent organization
that oversees all CACs in Texas.  We also receive a grant from the state of Texas
through the Attorney General's Office, National Children's Alliance, funding from
both Gonzales County, City of Nixon, City of Waelder, City of Gonzales, City of
Shiner, foundation grant,  as well as private donations from businesses and
individuals within the community.

Who is allowed to watch the interview?
Investigators and the Norma's House staff are the only people allowed to watch the
interview as it is taking place.  Immediately following the interview, invvestigators
will meet with the family to talk about what took place during the interview and what
the next steps will be.  Parents and/or guardians are not allowed to watch the video
for two main reasons (1) the child is made aware of who will be watching the video,
and knowing that parents would be watching may inhibit the child from speaking
due to wanting to protect the parent from hearing what occurred and (2) many
times the investigators will want to take a statement from the parent about what the
child told them before the interview, and do not want what the child originally told
the parent and what is said during the interview to become confused.

Do children know they are being videotaped during the
interview?
Yes.  We want the child to be informed about everything that is going on.  Before
the interview begins, the family advocate will show the child where the camera is,
explain why a videotape is made (so the child does not have to be interviewed by
each agency involved in the investigation), and who will be observing the interview.

How long does the interview process take?
To complete the entire process, which includes meeting with the parent or
guardian prior to the interview, the interview of the child and meeting with the
parents following the interview, takes approximately an hour to an hour and a half.  
An interview usually takes approximately 20-30 minutes, for each child, and
meeting with the parents takes approximately another 30 minutes.

What is a forensic interview?
A forensic interview is a fact finding interview which is conducted when there has
been a report of abuse.  The questions in a forensic interview are very closely
monitored not to lead the child in any way.
            What can I do as a parent?

1.  KNOW your children's friends, families, caregivers, youth group leaders,
teachers, any person spending time alone with your child.

2.  
TEACH your child names for their private parts and that they have the right to
say
NO.  Never make your child submit to physical contact if they do not want to.

3.  
LISTEN when your child tells you he or she does not want to be with or go
with someone else.

4.  
UNDERSTAND that no one should want to be with your child more than you.  
When someone is showing your child too much attention, ask yourself why.  
Listen to your intuition.

5.
 EXPLAIN to your child who a "someone" is, when you say to them, "Tell me if
someone looks at or touches you on your private places."

6.  
USE the word "Surprise" instead of "Secret" with your children.  Teach them
to tell you when any adults ask them to keep a secret.  

7.  
DO NOT put your child's first name on clothing or school books.  This puts
your child on a first name basis with anyone.

8.  
HAVE a code word that only you and your child know, to be used in an
emergency.

9.  
TELL your children that when away from home, if they feel scared or
uncomfortable, they have the right to use the telephone without anyone's
permission.  

10.  
BELIEVE your children if they say they have been abused.  Encourage them
to ask questions.

              How To TALK To A Child About Abuse

  • MAKE A REPORT TO EITHER OF THE FOLLOWING:  800-252-5400
    OR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT.  

  • DO NOT question the child.  If they wish to talk, listen-but do not press them
    for details.

  • BE PATIENT, calm and supportive.

  • UNDER-REACT.  Listen without criticism, anger or judgment.

  • WATCH your own non-verbal cues.  Facial expression and body language.

  • DON'T introduce or suggest names.