Child Abuse Awareness Month: 66,075 Confirmed Cases in Texas
SAN ANGELO, TEXAS – During the month of April, the Children’s Advocacy Center and other programs across the nation are raising awareness for Child Abuse prevention.
Within the past year, the Child Protective Services reported that the state of Texas saw 66,075 confirmed cases of child abuse and 315,348 unconfirmed cases. CPS also confirmed that 222 kids lost their lives to their abuser in Texas during 2016. Locally, the CAC reviewed and coordinated services for 1,579 abused children, trained 670 educators, and provided direct services to 1,339 children and families within the San Angelo community. Overall, the CAC has impacted 3,588 individuals through coordination, direct services, and training.
The CAC has planned various activities throughout the month of April to help bring awareness to child abuse. For the month of April, Fridays will be known as ‘Blue Friday.’ The CAC hopes that every Friday, social media users in the community can share meaningful posts to help further awareness. The CAC has also teamed up with Halfmann’s Bakery. For the month of April, the first 60 customers wearing blue each Friday will receive a free cookie.
Last week, to kick off events, the CAC hosted the Pinwheel Ceremony at the Tom Green County Courthouse (see that story here). Also, this past weekend, San Angelo families were invited to join the CAC for a free event at Kirby Park to enjoy music, food, and fun, while also promoting healthy families and the well being of children in the community. On April 19, the CAC and the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program will host a ‘Lunch and Learn’ from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in downtown San Angelo. This event, with lunch provided by Which Wich, will serve as an opportunity for community members to learn more about becoming a Court Appointed Advocate, a voice for children who have been abused and neglected in the San Angelo community.
Furthermore, CAC has asked all local congregations to participate in a day of prayer each Sunday to spread awareness for the prevention of child abuse.
Leann Hubert Forbes, Director of Marketing Services for the CAC of Tom Green County, said she hopes that “this month-long awareness will help to stimulate conversation and motivate the public to play a key role in the prevention of child abuse and neglect.”
For those not able to join these upcoming events, Forbes has provided some meaningful acts to stay engaged and spread awareness for child abuse.
1) Be a nurturing parent.
2) Help a friend, neighbor, or relative by volunteering to take care of the children.
3) Ask community leaders, schools, and churches to develop services to meet the needs of healthy children and families.
4) Be a voice on a larger scale for child abuse prevention by contacting your local and state representatives. Become one who influences positive change in your community.
“Children and families thrive in nurturing communities. We all play an important role in protecting the children in our community and ensuring parents have the tools to be a great parent,” added Forbes.
Currently, there are three main programs within the CAC that help children who have been abused. After an outcry of abuse, children and families visit the Hope House. The Hope House serves as a safe place for the children, and is a place for a team to conduct a forensic interview. This forensic interview is critical for the investigation, criminal prosecution, and justice for the child. Over the years, Hope House has had 1,579 intakes reviewed and has conducted 289 forensic interviews.
The CASA program is another program offered by the CAC. CASA Volunteers speak on behalf of children in the foster care system and help guide them to a safe and permanent home after navigating them through the judicial system. The CASA program has served 499 children and currently has 61 active CASA volunteers.
Lastly, the CAC offers Family Enrichment Services. These services provide families with the tools and support to create a nurturing home. The services help families prioritize family needs, setting appropriate boundaries and discipline, understanding reasonable expectations for children based on age and developmental levels, and establishing structure and daily routines. All these services are offered free of charge. The family enrichment services have helped 551 individuals.
To learn more about the events happening this month, or for more information on how the CAC can help, please contact Morgan Blue at (325)653-4673, or at [email protected]. Further information can also be found on the CAC’s website at cactomgreen.org.
Awareness and education are paramount to preventing child abuse. If you suspect abuse, call the Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-252-5400 or call 911 if you believe a child is in immediate danger.