April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in America. This month-long initiative, first celebrated in 1983 after a presidential proclamation, is a time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect. The initiative encourages individuals and communities to support children and families. The United States federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse and neglect as, at a minimum, “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation.” Also “an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”
In Fiscal Year 2018, there were over 783 abused and neglected children in DFPS custody from Gregg, Rusk and Upshur Counties. While East Texas CASA served over 467 children in our community by training volunteer advocates to be the voice for these children, we were not able to help every child in these counties. It costs approximately $1,425 to serve each child, and East Texas CASA is committed to providing a voice for every child in our community.
There are many things you can do to protect children and play a role in building strong families in communities. First and foremost, anyone who suspects abuse or neglect of a child has a social responsibility to report it. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, reports can be made anonymously to the Department of Family & Protective Service’s 24-hour Abuse Hotline at 800-252-5400 or the Texas Abuse Hotline Website. You can also educate yourself about child abuse and neglect, donate to social service agencies that work with children and parents or volunteer to serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). Please join us on Friday, April 5, in wearing blue, the official color of prevention, to show support for children.