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Pocatello Leaders Proclaim Fight Against Child Abuse

Community leaders in Pocatello met on Friday to focus on fighting against what they called an area epidemic of child abuse.

At Portneuf Medical Center, doctors and nurses see far too many abused children come through their doors.

“It’s very hard. It’s very traumatic for the families. It’s very traumatic for the nurses, and it never leaves your mind as an event that happens in your nursing career,? PMC Women and Children’s Services Director Anita Heaney said.

The mayors of Chubbuck and Pocatello proclaimed their support for National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“Putting it in the forefront of people’s minds. I think oftentimes, it is something we do try to slip behind and not pay attention to. So, it brings it out,? Bright Tomorrows Executive Director Kathy Downes said.

Bright Tomorrows counsels kids who’ve been victims of abuse, and over the last few years, the group has seen more and more children needing help.

“We’ve had a 26 percent increase over the last three years in child forensic interviews. So, we are seeing more,” Downes said.

“So, it’s a staggering number. And this is a problem in our community and in communities across the United States,? Bannock County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Vic Pearson said.

Those at the event said the trend can turn around, and if people in the community pay attention, they can help protect local kids.

“I think the biggest thing is being aware and educating themselves about what are signs and symptoms, and what are things that possibly make children at risk and they can possibly change in our communities,? Downes said.

Pearson said people who hurt area kids will face justice.

“There’s going to be consequences. The courts are going to hand down stiff sentences for individuals who commit crimes against our most innocent children,? Pearson said.

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