You might have seen several trees around the courthouse and along Elm Street wrapped in blue this month.
This is because of April’s designation as National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month, and Virginia’s House and the Young County Child Welfare Board are partnering up for the cause.
Next week will feature daily events during Week of the Young Child, an event promoting early childhood education, April 6-12.
Go Blue Day, slated for Wednesday, April 9, was created to encourage the community to wear blue to support the fight against child abuse, and its main focus is on children and their well-being.
CPS Supervisor Jennifer Knight, who serves six counties including Young, said that the signs of abuse span all walks of life.
“Unfortunately abuse is seen in a large variety of homes and is not limited to any particular race, socioeconomic background or city,” she said. “With that said, we are seeing at this time a very large number of our families we work with suffering from substance abuse issues, untreated mental health and being victims of family violence.”
Although each child abuse case is different, some basic indicators include behavioral changes, especially if they are sudden.
Susie Clack, executive director of Virginia’s House, said that the number of children served by a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) through Virginia’s House and Dr. Goodall’s House have increased over the last year, as have cases of abuse in Young County.
According to data provided by Virginia’s House, Ninety-five percent of abused children are victimized by someone they know or trust. Clack added that everyone is a mandated reporter of abuse due to Texas state law.
“If you aren’t aware of what those signs (of abuse) are you wouldn’t know how (to recognize one who has been abused),” Clack said. “If you’re at Sunday school, daycare, a caregiver — at some point, it’s our responsibility (to report a suspected victim of abuse).”
Knight said that if people, not just professionals in the field, are aware of signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect they may be able to intervene sooner.
“Earlier intervention generally means better outcomes for everyone involved,” she said. “Friends and family can have a very meaningful and positive influence when a family finds themselves in or headed toward a potentially negative situation. The more people are aware, involved, and most importantly, willing to help, the more support and therefore the better the chances are for a child and their family. Every child matters.”
Read more in Sunday's Graham Leader.