ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Domestic violence remains the number one police call in the City of Rockford.
While officers focus on removing the threat, the city is revamping its approach. The focus is shifting to children, and a small gesture could have a big impact.
The focus has shifted to children as more suspects are coming up in police reports as being a witness to partner violence in the past. Rock House Kids, one of many organizations, is now trying to change that path. More than a dozen kids received a bike, and it is now so much more than just for cruising around town.
“A lot of times when kids if they get a bike, it’s the only transportation they have and other times there’s violence in the area, so that’s how they get away from situations,” said Dee Lacney, director of Rock House Kids. “Just a few months back we had a couple teens that rushed over to Rock House on their bikes and they said shots were fired so close to them so they thought they were the ones being shot at but they has bikes so they were able to get away very quick.”
Statistics can be given all day long, but there are stories behind those numbers. Rock House is a safe-haven for children, where some receive meals. It is also a safe space to just go and hang out. They had a bike giveaway, where kids had their names pulled out of a hat before they go and grab a bike.
It was their first time for some, and while the goal for them is to have fun and ride around, it is about so much more.
“When I got my name called, I was like, ‘me,'” one kid said.
“I prayed two times and said, ‘even if I don’t get it, I will still be happy because other people got it,'” another said. “I want my bike always to be clean and not broken, because some are broken, and it has a black pedal and it’s shiny and nice. I can’t believe it.”
That was the reaction from just a few of the kids. The goal is now to also hep kids limit screen time and to get outside. The National Library of Medicine said that kids who watch too much TV are at a greater risk of violent behaviors, including physical fighting and bullying.
The City of Rockford said that they will be absolutely everywhere that residents will see children, like after school programs. to make sure that they are getting to the source of domestic violence.
If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.