McLennan County marks April with Child Abuse Awareness Month

Posted at 11:00 PM, Apr 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-12 00:20:13-04

If you've seen pinwheels pop up in front yards and in front of local business, they are to mark Child Abuse Awareness Month. 

Several local organizations are working together to end child abuse. They say it's a much-needed effort because there were more than three thousand reports of child abuse last year. 

Joy Phanner of the Family Abuse Center works with a lot of children and found they all want the same thing. ""Every child wants to know that they are loved and that they are safe." 

Waco's Family Abuse Center takes in men and women escaping abuse, many of them, with their kids in tow. Phanner said childhood trauma can have immediate and lifelong effects on a child. "We see a lot of kids who come in with insecurities who are constantly asking for food or toys or for affection because those are things they are missing out on."

Last year, McLennan County saw more than 3,000 allegations and more than 800 confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect. That's why Executive Director, Kathy Reid of Family Abuse Center said they are extending their resources. 

"We really want to highlight the needs of children in our community and really, kind of, focus on helping the community understand that child abuse, sadly, is such a prevalent problem," Reid said. 

They believe the solution is community building. That's why Family Abuse Center and Advocacy Center For Crime Victims & Children teamed up with police, schools, the district attorney's office and a number of other agencies in the region to form the "Alliance for Safe Children Coalition."

While they hope data and preventative strategies will drive numbers down, Program Director at The Advocacy Center for Crime Victims, Kerry Burkley said everybody can do their part. "If you suspect a child is being abused in any way, our job is not to investigate but to report. There are agencies that are created to investigate child abuse cases so we let the agencies do what they are supposed to do but it begins with that call."

There are several events taking place in honor of Child Abuse Awareness Month. The Advocacy Center For Crime Victims and Children will hold an open house every Thursday so people can get familiar with the services they offer.

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