Anderson County children's fears to be calmed with help

Anderson County children's fears to be calmed with help of stuffed animals

Posted:
Rebecca Franklin has already collected 447 stuffed animals. Rebecca Franklin has already collected 447 stuffed animals.
"Think of the children. Pick up a couple stuffed animals, drop them off at the court and keep this going," Rebecca Franklin urged. "Think of the children. Pick up a couple stuffed animals, drop them off at the court and keep this going," Rebecca Franklin urged.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

CLINTON (WATE) - An effort is underway in Anderson County to calm the fears of children who are called to testify in court. It will be done with the help of stuffed animals.

Every month, hundreds of children are called to appear in Anderson County Juvenile Court.

Attorney Rebecca Franklin, who practices primarily in Anderson County Juvenile Court, says the cases range from custody disputes to parental neglect and abuse.

"Sometimes these children have been through a lot. They're very leery, they're very shy, they hold back," said Franklin.

The children are forced to deal with serious issues in a courtroom, making them feel overwhelmed.

"They may not have seen their parents for a while and there they are, they get to see them at court. They're also told they have to go see a judge, so it's usually a very traumatic experience most of the time for the children," said Franklin.

Starting this week, the children will be given fluffy friends to help them out.

A toy box filled with stuffed animals will be placed in the juvenile courtroom where the children must speak to the judge.

"The judge can say, 'I have a toy box right here. Why don't you come up here and pick out any toy you want,'" said Franklin.

Franklin is bringing the project to Anderson County after she saw a similar program work in Knox County. She says it helps children open up and feel more comfortable.

"They just become a kid again, and it's not about being in a courtroom and then they can talk to somebody just like it's a friend," said Franklin.

She has already collected 447 stuffed animals. They will be given to children to take home with them.

Franklin is still taking donations. 

"Think of the children. Pick up a couple stuffed animals, drop them off at the court and keep this going," Franklin urged.

A toy box for the stuffed animals is being custom made.

The box, along with the animals, will be presented to Anderson County Juvenile Court on Friday at noon.

The project doesn't end there though.

Franklin says she wants donations to continue all year long.

The goal is to have enough donations to keep refilling the box over and over again.

If you would like to donate stuffed animals before Friday, you can drop them off at Stokes Lighting and Electric on Papermill Drive in Knoxville or the Anderson County Co-op in Clinton.

After that, any donations can be taken directly to Anderson County Juvenile Court.

For more information, call Rebecca Franklin at (865) 712-2091.

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