April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month in Fannin County and across the state and nation. Last year, there were 333 alleged victims of child abuse and neglect in Fannin County, according to the 2011 Data Book of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. This number is a significant drop from the previous year when it was 427. Over the last seven years, the number of alleged victims has ranged from 409 to 482 in Fannin County. The number of alleged victims includes all of the children who were reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) via the child abuse hotline or website as being suspected victims of abuse or neglect.
Despite this 22% decrease in the number of alleged victims, the number of confirmed victims increased slightly from 53 in 2010 to 56 in 2011 in Fannin County.
"The dramatic drop in the number of alleged victims has certainly caught our attention and prompted several discussions at our center," said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Fannin County Children's Center. "Since the number of confirmed victims has remained constant, we are not sure that we can say there is less child abuse happening, but there is certainly a decline in the number of reports going in to the child abuse hotline and website."
"Fewer reports of suspected abuse is concerning because CPS and law enforcement cannot investigate unless someone can find the courage to make that initial report," said Barber.
To report suspected child abuse in Texas, call 1-800-252-5400 or go to http://www.txabusehotline.org.
"The Children's Center has many activities planned for the month of April," said Barber. "The focus is raising awareness so that community members will make reports when they are worried a child may be being abused or neglected.
The community is invited to the annual open house at the Children's Center at 112 West Fifth Street in Bonham. It will be a come and go event from 5:30 - 7:00 pm on Thursday, April 19. Winners of the children's art contest will be recognized and all entries will be on display. Tours, refreshments and networking opportunities will also be included.
"Stand Up For Kids" is a come and go event from 3:30 to 5:30 pm on Monday, April 23 at Simpson Park in Bonham, across the street from IW Evans and LH Rather Schools. The free family fun event will include bouncy houses, pony rides, petting zoo, puppet shows, games, food and prizes.
On April 24, MoCheezy Ultimate Burgerz at 1017 N. Center in Bonham will donate a portion of their sales to the Children's Center.
Blue Sunday is April 29. On this day, churches are encouraged to say prayers for children who are abused and for the professionals and volunteers who are working to end child abuse. For more information, go to http://www.bluesunday.org.
"No Excuse for Child Abuse" is the slogan of the month. Local businesses, schools and churches with outdoor marquee signs are encouraged to post this slogan on their signs during the month of April. The Children's Center is still selling t-shirts, banners and yard signs with this slogan on them. For more information, go to http://www.fanninccc.org or call (903) 583-4339.