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Open House at child advocacy center April 1

Open House for the Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center will be a 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1 and everyone is invited to attend.

Mona Watson, Center director, said a proclamation will be signed by the mayors in Pike County and the surrounding areas declaring the month of April Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“This will be our fifth Open House and the purpose is, as always, to raise awareness about child abuse and let everybody know what we are doing here at the Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center in the area of child abuse prevention and what we do when it does occur,” Watson said.

Those who attend the Open House will have an opportunity to tour the child-friendly facility.

“We provide an atmosphere where the children feel comfortable and at ease,” Watson said. “That makes it easier for them to talk about what has happened to them. Those who have never visited that Center before will leave having a better understanding of who we are and what we do.”

Since the Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center opened five years ago, 670 clients have been served.

“Not all 670 are child abuses cases,” Watson said. “Some of the cases are children and families in crisis and at-risk clients. At the CAC, education is the key to the prevention of child abuse. I’ve said that over and over. It’s most important that we get the message out there. We need for the public to know what services are available here at the CAC and about the educational programs that are available to our schools – the Good Touch Bad Touch program and at-risk group counseling. We want children to know what to do and who to call if they are uncomfortable in a situation. We want them to know how to get help.”

Watson said the CAC works hard to convey the message of prevention so that child abuse can be stopped before it happens.

“Once child abuse does happen, DHR or law enforcement brings the child to the CAC for us to interview,” she said. “The interview is conducted here so that a child does not have to go through multiple interviews. The other agencies are involved in the interview and a decision will be made as to whether anything needs to be done to maintain the safety of that child.”

Not all alleged incidents of child abuse are true but most are and that’s the purpose of the interview which involves different agencies.

“I would say that a good 80 percent go through the DA’s office and those cases will either result in a plea or go to court,” Watson said. “We want to stop abuse before it starts and that’s why it is so important for the public to know about the Pike Regional Child Advocacy, where we are and who to call for help. Help is out there and we are always ready to do what we can.”

Watson invites everyone to attend Open House at the CAC on Wednesday and learn more about the Center and what the public can do to stop child abuse before it happens.