Children who have to navigate the court system can often feel anxious or overwhelmed. Their mental health is especially concerning when they are recounting traumatic events in court. Luckily, a pilot program in Anne Arundel County and Harford County circuit courts has seen success in easing the fear and anxiety of child witnesses through the use of therapy/facility dogs. These trained dogs accompany the children in court and provide emotional support and comfort.
With this success, many are looking to expand this type of program to other Maryland counties.Thanks to the many supporters of the bill such as Senate lead sponsor Bryan Simonaire, House lead sponsor Mike Malone, and our own Lisae Jordan, Senate Bill 101 passed unanimously in the chamber and looks to provide this court companionship program on a state level. It would offer similar programs to all Maryland counties on a volunteer basis.
As a part of the program, jurors are provided instruction on the purpose of the dogs, and children are able to reach down and pet them as they recount a traumatic experience.
"Most of all they provide support for children when they really need it”
-Lisae C. Jordan, Executive Director of MCASA
It is with steps like this that we continue to emphasize support for all survivors.
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