April is Child Abuse Prevention month and I wanted to advise you on the scope of this problem, services available in our community and the activities planned to raise awareness.

Cases of child abuse continue to increase. According to a report from Kids Harbor, they investigated 337 cases in 2006 and that rose to 614 cases in 2016. Their annual report shows 150 referrals from Camden County in the 15/16 counting period.

Child abuse can have a life-long impact on child victims. To better serve the victims and their families, Kids Harbor & Child Advocacy Center was founded in 2001. Their mission statement:

To provide coordinated response, healing and prevention of child abuse

Kids Harbor serves a ten-county area including Camden County and they have a facility in Osage Beach and St. Roberts. They provide critical resources free of charge for child abuse investigations including:

Child Friendly Environment for the child to be interviewed Child & Family Advocate to walk them through the investigation & court process Forensic Medical Exams by person specially trained for child exams Coordinate investigation using Multi-Disciplinary investigative team process Other services such as mental health counseling, etc.

Kids Harbor and the services they provide are a great asset to our community. Early intervention and support has been shown to lessen the traumatic consequences that a child experiences during the Criminal justice process.

We utilize their services on most child abuse cases and have found the multi-disciplinary investigative approach very beneficial. Rather than the child being interviewed at the Police Department and several times by the different agencies involved, they are interviewed one time in a child friendly environment by a person specially trained for child interviews.

To increase awareness in our community, Mayor McNabb will to do a proclamation for Child Abuse Awareness.

Another program to increase awareness is the "Pinwheels on the Parkway" and is sponsored by Kid's Harbor, Osage Beach, MO. The pinwheel is a nationally recognized symbol for child abuse prevention. We have ordered 40 pinwheels and a sign to be displayed in front of City Hall / Police Department during the month of April.