Lotus and Kentucky Bar Education
Tools for the Justice Process
The courtroom can be a scary place, especially for children. That is why Lotus is helping child victims of abuse through the court process.
They recently secured a more than $8,000 grant to partner with the Kentucky Bar Foundation for this “Be Brave” project.
Lotus’ Children Advocacy Program Director Grace Stewart said they plan to help 75 children in the next year, using educational tools like a court preparatory video, and ‘Be Brave” flip cards and booklets.
“The more that they know and understand, the less anxiety that they experience,” said Stewart.
“So every child, even if they’ve been through a traumatic experience or not, participating in the judicial system, which is something that they’re very unfamiliar with, can be very anxiety-inducing.”
The word B.R.A.V.E. is an acronym to help victims and their caregivers understand the resources they can use to steer clear of challenges in the courtroom.
B: Breathe in
V: Visualize a safe space
E: Exhale fear
“Being brave is anytime a child speaks about an experience that may have been harmful to them, whether it was abuse or neglect, that’s really brave, and so we really want to honor their story, and their bravery and courage.”
– Grace Stewart Lotus CAC Program Director
Lotus attained a model courtroom through a 2019 grant with the Kentucky Bar Foundation.
It includes pieces that resemble the judge, jury, prosecutor, defense attorney, perpetrator, victim, and more.
It resembles the booklets, helping victims familiarize themselves with the courtroom and the people inside.
“We also include their advocate, and the police officer who is involved in their case, they too will sit in the court for the entire trial,” said Stewart.
Graves County Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Kemp said tools like this helped a 14-year-old testify earlier this year.
“When she sat down, voice trembling, scared, she was able to deliver the truth, and that person was found guilty and sentenced to a maximum penalty of 20 years,” said Kemp.
” We made sure she knew that the most important person in getting that result was her, and we know that that person is not going to hurt anybody else for at least 20 years, and her bravery is what made that possible.”
Kemp said children often feel ashamed, even though they shouldn’t.
He said it can be hard repeating upsetting experiences, but tools like this make it easier.
“To be able to do the difficult work of getting convictions in sex abuse cases and taking these predators off the street, you got to have partners and programs like “Be Brave” definitely help with that.”
Stewart said 60% of all Lotus victims are under 18-years-old.