Harbor House is the Northwest Georgia Child Advocacy Center.
We provide services for children who may have been the victim abuse. We offer prevention programs to help stop abuse before it starts. We provide intervention where abuse may have occurred. Click the links above to learn more.
Harbor House is a member of the National Children's Alliance and The Children's Advocacy Centers of Georgia.
For optimal viewing, use the buttons to navigate (as opposed to scrolling down the page).
Safety Awareness For Everyone (SAFE) is an abuse prevention program taught through public school systems in Northwest Georgia. The curriculum focuses on valuable life-skills such as assertiveness and self-protection. The curriculum takes into consideration the developmental stages of the children taught with 3 different programs geared towards pre-K and Kindergarten, 3rd grade, and 5th grade age groups...
The program is presented by Shannon Bond. Her assistant, "Hermenna Belle" also helps Shannon when she is presenting to younger children.
SAFE Pre-K/Kindergarten Curriculum
With the help of a red-headed child named Hermenabelle (okay, so she's a puppet), children talk openly about inappropriate touching. The program emphasizes the touching rule--that, "Nobody should touch your private parts except to keep you clean and healthy." Each student also has the opportunity to practice a very special and powerful "NO!" in case somebody ever tries to break the touching rule.
"The students really seemed to enjoy and learn from the program."
"I felt very comfortable with the way the information was presented to my child. I would recommend it gladly."
3rd Grade Curriculum
With the help of Hermenabelle (a puppet), students are taught to identify and distinguish good, bad, and uh-oh touches, In addition to identifying and practicing assertiveness skills, the students role play by helping Hermenabelle develop a safety plan in three different situations.
"Students are definitely given a plan of action to protect themselves."
"I learned about the 3 touches and what to do if someone gives me an uh-oh feeling."
5th Grade Curriculum
The fifth grade program involves watching a video from the Committee For Children Personal Decision Safety Decision Making curricula entitled, "Yes, You Can Say No." Following the video, the class is led in interactive group discussion. This provides an opportunity for students to ask questions, talk about the video's highlights, and emphasize the programs positive message.
"After [the presenter] left, the students were positive and receptive in a discussion."
"Wonderful! Well done! Excellent!"
Have the Program at Your School or Organization
SAFE has been well received by students, teachers, and parents for years. If you are interested in having the SAFE program presented at your school, contact Shannon Bond, SAFE program presenter, at (770) 401-4201 for more information.
"Parents who attend the program were positive, impressed, and are in support of the program and its goals."
Harbor House provides prevention training programs that educate adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child abuse, and motivates them to take action when abuse is suspected. The program is designed for organizations serving children and youth. Contact us for more information or to schedule a training.
The curriculum can be used by individuals or organizations who are:
The program includes:
A child's safety is an adult's job. Children are often taught in schools on how to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse and that's important for them to learn. However, that's no substitute for adult responsibility. We make sure our children wear seat belts. We walk them across busy streets. We store toxic household cleaners out of reach. Why, then, would we leave the job of preventing child sexual abuse solely to children and, "the system"?
Click to the next slide to learn what you can do...
Talk About It
Learn some simple steps that you, as an adult, can do to protect children:
Learn the Facts:
People who abuse children look and act just like everyone else. In fact, they often go out of their way to appear trustworthy to gain access to children. Perpetrators gain trust in the child and the child's parents. This process, called grooming, can sometimes last for years. Physical contact with the child often begins with "out-in-the-open" touches that appear appropriate and normal--a pat on the shoulder, an occasional hug, a tickle on the back of the neck... As the child becomes accustomed to these touches, the perpetrator moves towards inappropriate touching.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to absolutely guarantee that your child will not be abused. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the chances of abuse occurring. There are also steps you can take to increase the likelihood that your child tells right away when inappropriate touching occurs. Understand that abusers often become friendly with potential victims and their families, enjoying family activities and earning family trust.
Understand why children won't tell...
-Children are afraid of disappointing their parents. They're also afraid of disrupting the family.
-The abuser sometimes threatens the child or a family member.
-The abuser shames the child, points out that she let it happen, or tells her that her parents will be angry.
-Some children who did not initially disclose abuse are afraid or ashamed to tell when it happens again.
-Some children are too young to understand. Many abusers tell children the abuse is 'okay' or a 'game.'
Know how children communicate:
-Children who do disclose sexual abuse often tell a trusted adult other than a parent. Training for people who work with children is especially important.
-Children may tell 'parts' of what happened or pretend it happened to someone else to gauge adult reaction.
-Children will often 'shut down' and refuse to tell more if you respond emotionally or negatively.
-If your child does not talk to you, don't think it's a sign of poor parenting.
Talk openly with your child:
-Good communication may decrease your child's vulnerability and increase the likelihood that he will tell you if he is sexually abused.
-Teach your child that it is your job to protect him.
-Teach your child that it is not his/her responsibility to protect others.
-Demonstrate daily that you will not be angry, no matter what your child tells you about any aspect of his life.
-Listen quietly. Children have a hard time telling parents about troubling events.
-Teach your child about her body, about what abuse is. Teach him/her words that help her discuss parts of the body comfortably with you.
-Tell the child the NOBODY should touch his/her private parts unless it's to help keep him/her clean or healthy.
-Start early and talk often. Use everyday opportunities to talk about sexual abuse.
Contrary to popular belief, there probably will not be any signs of sexual abuse if a child is molested. Physical findings are not common. However, redness, rashes or swelling in the genital area, urinary tract infections or other such symptoms should not go ignored. Also, physical problems associated with anxiety, such as chronic stomach pain or headaches, may occur.
Emotional or behavioral signals are more common. However, some children do not show any obvious emotional distress. Some children can be abused and maintain "honor roll" status. If there are emotional changes, these changes can run from 'too perfect' behavior, to withdrawal and depression, to unexplained anger and rebellion.
Make A Plan
If your child breaks an arm or runs a high fever, you know to stay calm and where to seek help because you've mentally prepared yourself. Reacting to child sexual abuse is the same. Your reactions have a powerful influence on your child(ren). Stay calm (or at least fake it in front of your child). Reassure your child that you're proud of them for telling. Don't show anger. Ask the child, "Is there anything else you want to tell me about that right now?" Don't question the child for specific details (who, where, when, how many, why?). Don't promise it will never happen again--that's a promise you can't guarantee. Instead, promise you will do everything you can to help him/her--and follow through with that promise! Believe your child. Contact authorities to seek help for your child and your family.
Your Visit to Harbor House
The LE/DFCS agency working with your family will schedule an appointment on your behalf. When you come to Harbor House, an interviewer will meet with you to gather background information and explain the process of speaking with your child.
After speaking with your child, the interviewer will again meet with you to discuss the outcome, discuss 'next-step' options, and answer any questions you may have. LE/DFCS will also be present to discuss their 'next steps' plans and, of course, answer any of your questions.
For more information about the process, click the tiles below. The information has tabs directed towards kids, and tabs directed towards parents/caregivers. We encourage you to review this information and share it with your child. This information can help put kids more 'at-ease' about coming to Harbor House.
Click the tabs to continue reading...
Children in the video are actors.
Information for Kids
When you come to Harbor House, the first thing you'll do is hangout in one of our playrooms. We have a playroom for younger kids. We also have a playroom for older kids and teens. Both playrooms have a few toys and also a television where you can watch movies. The playroom for older kids also has a computer where you can play computer games.
Information for Caregivers
Before talking with your child, the team working with you and your family will speak with you. They will gather background information about your child and situation. They will also briefly explain the interviewing process and answer any questions you might have.
Children in the video are actors.
Information for Kids
After you're in our playroom for a while, somebody from Harbor House will meet with you. They'll talk with you to see what you like to do for fun, learn more about you, and talk about different kinds of stuff like that. Some kids like to color or draw while talking. Sometimes kids (and teens too) are nervous because they'll be talking with somebody they've never met. Don't worry! This will also be the first time they've ever met you too.
Information for Caregivers
Interviewers specially trained in talking with children and adolescents will speak to your child about the situation. The process is designed to help your child feel at-ease. Our goal is for your child to leave with a feeling that he/she would come back without hesitation if they ever needed.
Our child interview room is pictured above.
Our older child / adolescent interview room is pictured below.
After The Interview
Information for Kids
After hanging out with Harbor House staff in the meeting room, you'll have a chance to go back to the playroom. The staff will again meet with whoever brought you to Harbor House. You'll also have a chance to choose a stuffed animal to take home for keeps. Every kid, teen (and sometimes adult too!) gets to choose a stuffed animal--if he/she wants.
Information for Caregivers
After the interview, the team will again meet with you to discuss the outcome of the interview with your child. Harbor House staff can make recommendations about what's best for you and your family. The team can also provide information regarding their next steps in terms of the investigation. Of course, the entire team will be there to answer any questions you have.
A-D-U-L-T Spell Off
Each year attorneys, teachers, media moguls, physicians, civil leaders, professors, business owners and bankers duke it out for the privilege of being named the Rome/Floyd County Spelling Champs.
Teams of three adults go head-to-head and the event is a blend of true competition and comedy as teams spell words to raise money for a great cause.
Harbin Clinic has signed as our Champion level sponsor. They have provided promotional expertise and passion for the fundraiser--taking this event to a new level!
Promotional Photos by Kelly Moore Photography
Runners of all ages and skill participate in the Roman Rumble--a 5K run, 2Kwalk held at Ridge Ferry Park each year.
Part of the Race Rome Series that benefits non-profits in Rome/Floyd County, proceeds from this particular event benefit Harbor House.
Throughout the year, Harbor House hosts service days. Kids, teens, and adult volunteers from a variety of organizations come to our facility to assist in site upkeep activities like yardwork, painting, pressure washing, etc., etc.
Child Abuse Prevention Month
During the month of April, Harbor House puts the 'spread awareness' about child abuse into overdrive. We assist with the pinwheel project, coordinate PSAs on local radio stations, and other activities to help educate the public about the prevalence of child abuse in our community.
How To Help
You can make a monetary donation via PayPal.
You can also send donations to us via mail.
If you would like to donate your time as a volunteer. Please contact us!
PO Box 5143
Rome, GA 30162-5143
Ted Buckenham, Program Manager
Janet Burch, Services Coordinator
Gail Garland, Exectutive Director
Kelly Perry, Administrator