COOKE COUNTY, TX - The Cooke County Family Crisis Center, Abigail's Arms, has seen a dramatic increase in crimes against children over the summer.
The number of child sexual assaults in the county during June and July is nearly 8-times the number that occurred during the same time last year.
Staff at Abigail's Arms said they believe the reason for the increase in these crimes could be that while children are on summer break, they are often on their own to find things to do.
Many are unsupervised and unprotected from predators.
When we told parents in Cooke County about the increase in child sex crimes...they were shocked.
"As a parent you are scared, mad, worried, sad, sick." said one mother who's daughter was a victim of sexual assault.
"We actually had seven outcries of child sexual assault within about a week and a half period," said Ginger Johnson, director of victim services for Abigail's Arms.
The Cooke County Family Crisis Center said they normally average about 2 or 3 child sexual assault cases a month.
Last year in June and July, the crisis center received a total of three reports of this type of crime.
But this year, they've seen more than five times that many in the same time period.
"Since then I went back, pulled the numbers and found that in June we had eight outcries and in July we had another eight outcries," said Johnson.
The numbers are alarming to advocates across Cooke County but one mother, who we choose not to identify, said there could be more to the increase in reported assaults..
"It's scary. It makes you relive some things you don't want to relive. But in the same sense, I also think it means that more people are actually coming out. More kids feel like they can speak. There's a place for them to go," said the mother.
Victim advocates said the opportunities to commit crimes against children increase during the summer months.
But it is also a time when children spend more time with their parents, making it more likely to tell them if something has happened.
"The number one thing to remember is, if a child makes an outcry of sexual assault, let them know that you believe them. Don't ask them a lot of questions. Let them tell you what they want to tell you. Then with them out of their ear shot, you can call us or you can call Child Protective Services and make a report which gets the process going," said Johnson.
Advocates said it's important to make sure if you can't supervise your child during the summer. that they are in the care of someone you trust.
Abigail's Arms staff said It's important to note that if a child has been assaulted, they offer a number of resources and therapy to the entire family.
Here is a link to their website: http://www.abigailsarms.org/