The rate of reported child abuse cases in the Northwestern District of Hampshire and Franklin counties and the town of Athol is one of the highest in the state, with approximately one new case opened every day.
Protecting children from abuse is a top priority of the Office of Northwestern District Attorney David. E Sullivan.
The NWDA is currently helping to secure national accreditation for its Children’s Advocacy Center, a child-friendly residence in Northampton, where children who may be victims of physical and sexual abuse and their families can receive many of the services they need during the criminal investigative process, all under one roof.
Established in 2006, the house is the focus for bringing the child and non-offending parent into a safe, child friendly environment in which the child can be interviewed by a multidisciplinary team of law enforcement, Department of Children and Families investigators, an Assistant District Attorney and other professionals.
The trustees of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School and Cooley Dickinson Hospital have partnered with the Northwestern District Attorney's Children's Advocacy Project, a not-for-profit fundraising arm of the CAC, to provide the house and equip it with a medical suite.
Last month, the CAC unveiled beautiful new murals in the waiting and examining room painted by nationally acclaimed children’s book illustrator Kathryn Brown, who volunteered to decorate the CAC and directed several youthful volunteers who helped her transform the waiting room with her inspired, child-friendly illustrations.
In April, the Children’s Advocacy Project sponsors the annual Child Abuse Awareness Month Kickoff Breakfast, the major fundraiser which supports the work of the CAC and attended by over 300 community members. Each year we honor two people who have provided outstanding service to abused children. The next breakfast is April 5th, 2012 at The Log Cabin, in Holyoke.
The Northwestern District Attorney's Office places a high priority on conducting the most effective investigations and prosecutions of child abuse cases.
In October the NWDA Child Abuse Unit held an intensive 3-day training in forensic interviewing. Earlier this year, the unit traveled to the National Children’s Advocacy Center’s Child Abuse Symposium in Huntsville, Ala. to receive training.
We will continue to implement and support child abuse prevention initiatives and community collaborations aimed at reducing the number of victimized children and helping abused children heal.
Please know that each of us can make a difference to promote a safe environment where children are free from sexual and physical abuse and neglect, and where all children are treated with dignity and respect.
For further information on our Child Abuse Unit or other initiatives of the Office of the Northwestern District Attorney, please visit our website at http://www.NorthwesternDA.org