Protecting Our Children

Child Abuse Prevention Month: a reminder that it’s our duty to ensure the safety of children both in our homes and in our community

By: Samantha Koepp-Stemplinger

During 2015 in Aransas, Nueces and San Patricio Counties, there were more than 6,500 reports of child abuse and neglect. More than 1,700 were confirmed victims, with almost 300 children removed from their homes. In those counties, there are more than 900 children in foster care. In 2015, there were close to 750 children in foster care. Child abuse and neglect is an epidemic on the rise in the Coastal Bend – in every zip code and every neighborhood.

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April is Child Abuse Prevention month, a reminder that we all play a role in ensuring the safety of not just the children in our homes, but also the children in our community. By recognizing the struggles some families may endure that lead to abuse or knowing the signs of maltreatment of a child, you can help prevent or end the trauma that no child should ever experience.

In 1989, a grandmother whose 3-year-old grandson died from abuse by his parents began tying blue ribbons to the antenna on her van as a reminder of the bruises her grandson endured. Since then, blue ribbons have been worn during April to remember the victims of child abuse and raise awareness.

You may not see abuse or hear of abuse happening, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening around you or the people you know. It impacts every single one of us, from the relationships we have and the safety in our community (over 66 percent of people in prison have been in foster care at one point in their lives) to the taxes we pay (it costs over $11,000 a year for a child to be in foster care).

To educate the community on how we can all become more vigilant for our children, during the month of April, local organizations will host the following child abuse prevention awareness events:

April 4: Go Blue Day
8 a.m.-5 p.m., Nueces County Courthouse
Contact: Al Cardenas (361-878-3561)

April 5: Nueces State of the County’s Children Presentation
9 a.m., Nueces County Commissioner’s Court
Contact: Al Cardenas (361-878-3561)

April 5: Pinning Our Hope on You
6 p.m.-8 p.m., CASA Office (2602 Prescott)
Methodist Children’s Home and CASA of the Coastal Bend will remember those who have fallen victim to child abuse with a bell-ringing ceremony. Families are encouraged to attend and pick up their blue ribbons to wear throughout April. Blue ribbons will be available at the CASA office throughout April for those unable to attend the event. Contact: diana@coastalbendcasa.org or 361-884-2272

April 7: Child Abuse Prevention Month Event
9 a.m., Child Protective Services (4201 Greenwood)
Contact: Al Cardenas (361-878-3561)

April 12: Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation
11:15 a.m., City Hall – City Council Chambers
Mayor Nelda Martinez and the Corpus Christi City Council will declare April “Child Abuse Prevention Month.” Contact: diana@coastalbendcasa.org or 361-884-2272

April 24: Blue Sunday
On this day, churches will pray for victims of child abuse and those who rescued them. Register your church to participate at www.bluesunday.org.

April 33: 11th Annual CASA Superhero 5K Run/Walk
8 a.m., Heritage Park
Superheroes for children unite at this 5K walk/run that includes a costume contest for children and adults, as well as a vendor area of local business and organizations that will provide giveaways and activities. For more information, visit coastalbendcasa.com/5k.

If you suspect abuse or neglect of a child, call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400. And call 211 or visit www.211texas.org to find local services for families in need.

CASA of the Coastal Bend trains volunteers to advocate for the best interest of children who have been abused or neglected and are in the foster care system. The next training begins May 17.

For more information about CASA or to sign up for training, contact Samantha Koepp-Stemplinger at samantha@coastalbendcasa.org, call 361-884-2272 or visit www.casaofthecoastalbend.org.

Photos courtesy of CASA

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