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April is #039;Child Abuse Prevention#039; month

The Child Advocacy Center saw 101 abused children in the year 2000, and is anticipating as many this year, according to Kenny Harden, a member of Butler County's Child Advocacy Board.

The Butler County Chief Deputy was the guest speaker at the Greenville Lions Club, and spoke on behalf of the Child Advocacy Center, in its second year of operation in Butler County.

"The center is a unique, specialized agency that coordinates resources to meet the needs of the community's children," Harden said. "There are many cases of children being abused, neglected, or otherwise in situations that no child should be placed in, and intervention by special skilled counselors is the only way to get the children through their ordeal."

Harden said the result of some of the Center's work were evident in recent prosecution of sex-related crimes.

"When a child goes through any emotional trauma, they must be handled very carefully, by skilled counselors and child psychologists, or they will be scarred emotionally for life-they would have problems for the rest of their lives," Harden said.

Harden said that of the 101 cases the Center handled last year, not all of them saw the inside of a courtroom.

"Sometimes, after extensive counseling, parents and counselors decide that a case would be better off for the victim if it didn't go to trial," Harden said. "Sometimes the child would just suffer irreparable emotional damage from the trauma involved in testimony."

Harden said the Center, unlike other agencies, is solely dedicated to children.

"We pool resources from many areas-law enforcement, counselors, human resources, the judicial system-just whatever is necessary for the child," he said.

Another recent milestone achievement for the Center has been its ability to send law enforcement officers to special training seminars.

"We have been able to send officers, those that are most likely to contact the child in need first, to training sessions in Huntsville to learn about child abuse," Harden said.

But Harden said funding, as with many other service-oriented agencies, is an obstacle.

"We have some government funding available, but rely mostly on the private donations we receive," he said. "One area that has shown a great deal of success for us is the "Blue Ribbon" campaign-sponsors can, for a small donation, receive a blue ribbon to place on the front door of their home or business."

Harden said anyone interested in making a contribution, or seeking more information about the Child Advocacy Center may call the center at (334) 382-8584.