National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Where We Are Now - The Center for Child Protection
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National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Where We Are Now

Anissa Munoz
by Anissa Munoz
May 10, 2016
Read time: 4 minutes
National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Where We Are Now

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, when we as a society acknowledge our responsibility for facing and preventing child abuse and neglect, and we’d like to thank the Austin American-Statesman for its award-winning reporting on child deaths from abuse and neglect in Texas and its ongoing coverage of the issues facing our state in addressing this tragedy.  Discussing child abuse and neglect is difficult.  It’s nearly unbearable to read about 2-year-old Adrian Langlais, who was beaten to death at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, or 19-month-old J’Zyra Thompson, whose 3-year-old siblings burned her to death in an oven while the adults expected to be in charge were absent.  A recent piece by Judge Darlene Byrne, who oversees all of Travis County’s child welfare cases, discussed the link between child abuse and our state’s current foster care crisis, calling for preventive measures to end child abuse and shorten or eliminate the need for out-of-home care.

The Statesman also discussed statewide trends for 2015, noting an uptick in child deaths due to abuse or neglect and an increase in the number of confirmed investigations.  Local trends are mixed.  According to data from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, from 2014 to 2015, child deaths from abuse and neglect in Travis County declined from 9 to 2.  However, the total number of confirmed victims of child abuse and/or neglect in Travis County rose nearly 16%, from 2,157 to 2,495 children.  In the Austin Region as a whole, the number of confirmed victims rose 8%, from 7,509 to 8,127 children, with an increase in the region’s child population of 1.6%.

These numbers demand that we remain vigilant and continue to confront the problem of abuse and neglect before serious problems occur.  Thankfully, we can point to some promising signs.  In 2015, the Center for Child Protection, a nationally accredited children’s advocacy center and the only nonprofit in Travis County involved in the investigation of crimes against children, served 1,025 children at the point-of-interview, an increase of nearly 30% over 2014.  From an educational standpoint, the increase in this number means that more people are recognizing the signs of child abuse and reporting it, and the Center in turn can provide the children and protective caregivers with the services and assistance they need.

While we are making progress, we still have so much work to do.  Children are still being physically and sexually abused at the hands of their caregivers, family members, and others. Last year alone, 63% of the cases the Center saw were sexual abuse cases, while 15% involved physical abuse.  On a national level, 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.  But having a community that’s willing to listen, learn, and report abuse is a positive step forward and furthers the Center’s mission to end the cycle of child abuse through advocacy, education, and community support. In fact, in 2015 the Center increased the number of services provided to children and adults by nearly 14%, and it furthered its outreach through educational training, Center tours, and presentations to over 5,000 community members.

Last year, to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Center launched the Spot It. Stop It. campaign to encourage the public to learn to spot the signs of child sexual and physical abuse, how to prevent it from happening, and how to report it.  This year, to advance the campaign, the Center put a group of real people in a real focus group to discuss a variety of issues in Austin.  What they didn’t know is that one of them was an actor who would quickly disclose that she has been sexually abused, demonstrating that it’s our responsibility as adults to learn the signs of child abuse and neglect because children never talk as openly as the actor in the clip.  Last year’s campaign was a success, and there’s hope this year’s video, available on Facebook and YouTube, takes us even further in educating the community.

We hope that someday there won’t be a need for a month designated to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect.  Until then, we must and we will educate, advocate, and serve on behalf of the children among us.

Contact Info

Center for Child Protection
8509 FM 969, Building 2
Austin, Texas 78724

Phone: 512-472-1164
Fax: 512-472-1167

Anissa Munoz
About Anissa Munoz

Digital Marketing Manager