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Malone Child Service Center opens

By Staff, 03/4/21 1:04 PM

PRESCOTT – Thursday was a banner day for Prescott where child safety is concerned.

This is because a ribbon tying event was held for the Donna and Percy Malone Child Safety Center, at the old Bank of Prescott building on Main. Christa Neal, director, said the first center opened six years ago in Arkadelphia and served children from Nevada County. Now, there’s a place in town where children can go for help in dealing with abuse and neglect problems. The ribbon tying event was sponsored by the Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce.

Neal said the local center began providing services at its Prescott location in February for children and families for child abuse. The program begins with a forensic interview, which is recorded and watched by a professional who looks for certain signs and behavior patterns. The observer is in a different room so as not to be a distraction during the interview. There are also medical exams for victims of physical and sexual abuse, mental health exams and children and family advocacy during the interview process.

The center partners with the Prescott Police Department, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, Department of Human Services and the 8th Judicial District South Prosecuting Attorney’s office to provide quality evidence should a case need to go to court based on the services provided. For those children who need it, therapy services are available.

One of the reasons the forensic interviews are recorded, Neal said, is so the child doesn’t have to repeat the trauma they’ve gone through over and over. The interviews can be watched at any time by professionals. “It’s a collaborative approach,” she said, “to lessen the trauma for the children.”

Services are offered to children ages 3-17, but children of all ages will be seen if need be. Services offered include information on body safety where the children are taught their bodies are their own and no one should touch them inappropriately, and how they shouldn’t keep secrets of being touched from their family or a trusted adult. The center also works with the community and schools on the topic of child abuse prevention and mandated reporter training for groups, organizations and individuals. One of the other things discussed at the center is keeping children safe online. This is done by reviewing account settings, checking for inappropriate posts, keeping an eye on third party apps and reporting cyber bullying.

Appointments can be made by calling 870-403-6879. For suspected child abuse, the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline should be called at 844-SAV-A-CHILD.

“We’re glad to be here,” Neal said. “We’ve helped a lot of children and families in the area.”