Police station aquarium helps to calm kids down

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A fish tank has been set up at a US police station to help reduce the stress on children of domestic abuse victims.

Amesbury station in Massachusetts has a 108 l/24 gal (29 US gal) aquarium in one of its interview rooms, set up to hopefully allay the anxieties of some of the youngsters who may have to visit the station with parents.

Officer Jason Kooken explained that often parents who are reporting problems like domestic abuse and other home-related issues have no choice but to take their children to the station with them.

The fish have a calming effect and also help to distract the attention of the children while their parents are talking about what are often very distressing matters.

Kooken told Newburyport News: "Anything we can do to calm them down is huge. They get pretty excited about it. At least, it's something else that's going to help."

The tank, equipment and fish have been donated by a local shop and by a former resident of Amesbury who co-owns a fish supply business in Florida.

Kooken has previously set up an aquarium for children at a crisis centre in the city, so he knows it works as a tool to help with stress – the fish tank there has been heralded for its calming effect on the many children who visit with their parents.

He will be in charge of looking after the tank, having worked for a company that installed and maintained aquariums in offices and restaurants before joining the police department.

The station's aquarium is planted and is home to tetras, catfish and snails  at the moment. Kooken says he's keen on adding some fish that will hopefully breed and have babies in the tank.

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