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Aware of abuse: Community can work to nurture,

Child abuse is a serious nationwide problem, no less so in Hood River County. In 2010, 592 reports of child abuse and neglect were reported to county authorities; 56 percent were assessed, and 17 percent determined to be founded, according to the non-profit Children First.

If that sounds like a small “founded” proportion, consider that statewide, just nine percent were founded, according to Children First.

In Oregon, 31 percent of founded cases were related to domestic violence and 42 percent to substance abuse. This ratio was reversed in Hood River County, where it was 51 percent related to domestic violence and 37 percent to substance abuse.

The numbers may be difficult to track or explain, but in Hood River County it is not difficult to find resources to help families. In three weeks, Hood River Rotary holds a work party at the Helping Hands Against Violence shelter, giving a boost to that critical facility, which provides 24-hour hotline access, counseling, and other services.

The Next Door Inc. provides “Parenting Today” classes on a regular basis; call toll-free at 1-855-308-2236 to get the latest schedule.

NDI also offers a comprehensive program called Families First, with Healthy Start as its core program. This provides a “Welcome Baby Visit” to all first-time parents and weekly home visits to new families experiencing extra stress.

In addition, NDI operates the Family Support and Connections program for low-income families in a five-county area.

“Our vision is a community of healthy, thriving children raised in strong, nurturing families,” said NDI director Janet Hamada.

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For more, turn to page A10 in today’s Mind, Body, Spirit section. In observance of April as Child Abuse Awareness Month, Karen Enns of NDI provides a practical and insightful set of suggestions on how individuals, and the community as a whole, can work to improve the lives of parents and children and respond to a crisis or act constructively to help prevent one.

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