Gainesville Daily Register

April 9, 2013

CASA calls attention to plight of abused children

Special to the Register

Cooke County — Reality check: Every eight minutes, a child is abused or neglected in Texas.

While the average person can use eight minutes to get dressed, drive to work, pack a lunch, run a mile, read a newspaper article or do whatever they may please, a child who suffers from neglect or abuse becomes a powerless victim to their situation.

April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, a time to focus on the safety and care of one of our most vulnerable and valuable resources – children.

To draw attention to local child abuse issues, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of North Texas sets up a display each April on the courthouse lawn indicating the number of Cooke County children that have been taken into foster care because of abuse or neglect.

This year, CASA staff and volunteers decorated 112 pink yard flamingos symbolizing the 112 children in Cooke County who were placed in foster care because of neglect or abuse in 2012.  The flamingos were be placed in front of the court house on April 8, demonstrating that no matter how one might dress things up, child abuse and neglect are an ugly reality which cannot and should not simply be ignored nor overlooked.

According to national research, in 2011, 3.6 million cases of child abuse or neglect were reported in the United States, involving approximately 6 million children. Out of these, 690,658 children were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect. Still further, 1,570 of these children died in the United States in 2011 as a result of child abuse or neglect.

Perhaps hitting even closer to home, CASA staff say, is the startling statistic that in 2012 the state of Texas alone had 64,366 confirmed child victims of child abuse or neglect, 47,137 of which were placed in the foster care system. 60 percent of these children were under six years old, and 122 lived right here in Cooke County.

But yet it doesn’t stop there. In 2012, there were 212 child fatalities caused from abuse or neglect in Texas. As distressing as this number is, it is an improvement from last year’s 243 abuse related child fatalities.  On average, every 41 hours, a child dies from child abuse or neglect every 41 hours.

During April, wearing a blue ribbon serves as a reminder of Cooke  County’s most vulnerable children, the victims of child abuse and neglect.

CASA urges residents to increase awareness of and work toward prevention by wearing a blue ribbon this month in remembrance of the children who were not given a choice and consequently fell victim to their circumstances.

In the time it took you to read this article, approximately five children in America were abused. We all have opportunity to make a difference for children who cannot make a difference for themselves, whether that is through getting involved as a CASA volunteer advocate, a volunteer at CPS or other victim services organizations such as Abigail’s Arms or reaching out to help struggling families.

CASA of North Texas executive director Vicki Robertson noted  there are 12 children in foster care who do not have a CASA Advocate looking out for their safety and well-being.  

“April is a time to consider what you might do to turn the ugly statistics and the lives of abused and neglected children in a better direction,” Robertson said in a news release.