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Editorial: Make abuse center a reality

“It shouldn’t hurt to be a child.” Those words convey the most basic thought when it comes to young victims of abuse, be it sexual, physical, emotional or mental. Those words also serve as a rallying cry to the people who are determined to eliminate such abuse and to provide comfort and aid to the victims of such crime.

The Northwest District Attorney’s Office is an important advocate for the victim in seeking justice through the court system. The office knows that these children have gone through enough of an ordeal and that the work that has to be done shouldn’t compound what these kids have already gone through.

To that end, the DA’s office is trying to put together a center in Greenfield, one where there isn’t the cold and harsh feeling of a police station or legal office and where no one is asking these young girls and boys to travel to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield for an examination at the Family Advocacy Center there.

Instead, the plan is to provide these abuse victims of Franklin County and Athol in Worcester County with a safe place, if you will, much closer to home, one that is warmer and more kid-friendly. It will be a place much like the center that exists in Northampton.

“Franklin County kids deserve a nice home to go to, and less trauma, too,” said Susan Loehn, executive director of the Northwestern Children’s Advocacy Center.

We agree — Greenfield and other towns in Franklin County need to get behind this effort and make such a center here a reality.

The good news is that there’s already a building available. A modular classroom that was once part of the Greenfield High School campus has been donated and is waiting until a site for the center can be located.

But there’s plenty more that has to be done, from finding volunteers and donations to turn the building into an advocacy center to raising money to run the center annually. The Northampton center costs about $100,000 per year.

“We need community people who say ‘We want this here and we’ll help you,’” Loehn said. “The important thing is to stop the abuse and make the child safe.”

Let’s step forward and make this center a reality, one that will help put these young victims of abuse on a better path toward healing.

Let’s do our part in seeing that it doesn’t hurt to be a child.

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