Department of Criminal Justice receives grant, recognition

The Department of Criminal Justice is the recipient of a three-year $237,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention to begin a program that will assist in research and prevention of child abuse in Alabama.

“The main thing we will be doing with the grant money will be providing this online resource,” said Dr. Phil Bridgmon, chair of the criminal justice department. “Community professionals-such as judges, attorneys, teachers and social workers-will be able to access the resources relating to juvenile and family justice.”

The kickoff of the program will take place Feb. 3. State, local and university dignitaries will be present to view a demonstration of the online resource. The name of the program is Child Defend, and it will be a replication of Texas Loves Children, which is an award-winning organization in Texas that has been a resource for child abuse and neglect cases.

“This project is very much a program of UNA,” Bridgmon said.

He said he hoped students would get involved with the program through assisting with research for the site.

“The resource is no good if there is no research,” Bridgmon said.

Students have plenty of opportunity to get involved, he said.

“Part of our mission is fostering collaboration in order to get professionals to work together, so if students are looking at service learning opportunities or interested in working with children or youth services areas, we have many partner agencies we can help them get in touch with to work on projects,” Bridgmon said.

Bridgmon said this program is not just for the criminal justice department, but it is a campus-wide effort. He said students of all majors are encouraged to get involved.

“Our ultimate goal is improving the lives of children and families,” he said.