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Local News

Because child abuse and neglect ranks as one of the greatest risks to the health and well-being of Barry County children, the Hastings City Council proclaimed April Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Mayor Frank Campbell, with Karen Jousma and Julie Nakfoor-Pratt of the Family Support Center of Barry County, read the official proclamation Monday.

"In Barry County in 2014, 203 children between the ages of 0-17 were confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect by Children's Protective Services," he said.

Child abuse and neglect may be the result of various social problems such as inadequate parenting skills, family violence, poverty, family dysfunction, mental health problems, homelessness and crime.

The Family Support Center of Barry County has been designated by Michigan's Children's Trust Fund to lead alongside local community based programs to assist in expediting efforts to prevent child abuse now and in future generations through joint interagency prevention efforts, he said.

The most precious and valuable asset of our county is our children, and we must dedicate ourselves, our energy and our resources to the nurturing and protection of these most vulnerable individuals--protecting children and strengthening Barry County families is a shared community responsibility, he said.

"Community action is needed to help families break the cycle of abuse with small or simple gestures-just by reaching out and showing you care about children in your family and neighborhood demonstrates that we value our children. I urge all citizens to work together to help reduce child abuse and neglect significantly in years to come," Campbell said.

"I truly appreciate this and the recognition by the council, because it is truly serious in our county when it comes to childhood abuse and neglect, Jousma said.
"But, we as a committee are also providing serious efforts to overcome the abuse and neglect to children."


"In April we also recognize national crime victims rights," Nakfoor-Pratt said.

Safe Harbor, the children's advocacy center, addresses issues about children after they report child abuse or neglect, so it dovetails with the Family Support Center's work, she said.

"April seems to be quite a recognition for these vulnerable citizens, so thank you."

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