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May 2, 2014

Shining a LIGHT on child abuse

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — More than a hundred people gathered at the London Farmer’s Market Friday night to take a stand against child abuse.

April is recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Department of Community Based Services and other organizations teamed together for Friday’s event to increase awareness of child abuse and neglect.

In the attempt to increase awareness of child abuse and neglect, the event consisted of informational booths, live music, guest speakers and a candlelight vigil.

“Child abuse is defined as physical, sexual or emotional maltreatment of a child,” said event organizer Crystal Mayes, a Laurel County Social worker.  “We’re here today to talk about the prevention of child abuse and raise awareness of that.”

Although children who died from abuse or neglect are down from the 2011-2012 reporting period, most people feel that even the loss of one child is far too many.

According to Youth.com website, the instances of child death by abuse and/or neglect in Kentucky dropped drastically between the end of the 2012 to the 2013 reporting period from 32 in 2011-2012 to only nine in 2012-2013. The numbers dropped again in the near-fatalities in 2013, from 44 in 2012 to 27 in 2013.

Reports of child abuse and neglect, however, increased in the 2013 reporting period. According to the website, approximately 50,000 reports were filed in 2013 statewide, up 1,000 from 2012. Substantiated (verified) abuse and neglect cases dropped in 2013, however, and most cases increased during the months of May and June.

“We have 25 to 30 cases of child abuse or neglect ongoing at any given time,” Mayes said.  “Laurel County has the same amount of investigations going on in a week that some counties have in a month.”

With these statistics in hand, advocates of child protection strive to bring these facts to public awareness.

“It’s really unfortunate that child abuse is an issue at all,” said Mayes.  “We need to take a proactive stance against child abuse and child neglect.”

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North Laurel’s Gracie Jervis is shown in action during the state tournament final. Jervis and the North Laurel Little League girls are playing in the Central Region Tournament in Indianapolis. North Laurel dropped its first three games of the tournament.

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