April named Child Abuse Prevention Month
In Texas in 2003, there were more than 186,000 reports of child abuse or neglect. Out of those 186,000 reports, 184 children died as a result of the abuse or neglect. Countless others sustained serious, permanent physical injury and still more bear the psychological scars left by their abusers.
In an effort to raise awareness of child abuse and to educate citizens abou
t prevention methods, the City of Lockhart has declared April 2005 as Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month.
The goal of this year”s statewide Child Abuse Prevention campaign is, “to stop child abuse and neglect from happening in the first place, sparing children and families emotional and physical trauma and decreasing the need for costly intervention and treatment services,” according to the DFPS website.
The effects of child abuse are far reaching, affecting not only the victimized child, the abuser and the families, but also the community as a whole.
Statistics report that child abuse victims are 53 percent more likely to be arrested as juveniles, and 38 percent more likely to be arrested as adults than children who are not victims. Further, the United States spends more than $258 million each day as a direct and indirect result of childhood abuse. That total is equivalent to about $1,461 per American family annually.
Sadly, child abuse is a preventable social epidemic. Often, children continue to be victimized simply because witnesses to the abuse choose to look the other way.
Some witnesses may be concerned about the legal ramifications of getting involved. However, Texas does offer a degree of legal protection to individuals who report child abuse “in good faith.” The state also holds the failure to report child abuse as a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $1,500 or imprisonment for a period of up to 30 days.
Central Texas has a number of resources available for children and families who are the victims of abuse. The Hays-Caldwell Women”s Center offers services to families and children, including educational programs and therapeutic services.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Central Texas works with abuse victims who have been removed from their homes and families, providing them with a voice in the court system.
Regardless, the strongest advocate for the victims of child abuse is the voice of a community that will not stand idly by while the abuse continues.
To report suspected child abuse or neglect, please call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.