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April 24, 2013

A crucial message

‘Go Blue Day’ aims to speak out against child abuse

Athens — If you have seen blue ribbons and blue shirts throughout Henderson County you know that it’s that time of year again! April is Child Abuse Awareness month in Henderson County and across the State of Texas.

As always, leaders in our community are making great strides to heighten our county’s awareness in a coordinated effort to prevent child abuse.  Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee, Henderson County Attorney Clint Davis and Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt have partnered up with other local agencies to promote April as Child Abuse Awareness Month.

Child abuse is a community problem that can take many forms including, emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and verbal abuse.  But what people don’t realize is that a little awareness goes a long way to prevent child abuse.

Throughout the entire month of April, community members have been asked to proudly display blue ribbons everywhere to promote awareness and prevent child abuse. Many of the blue ribbons are placed in memory of children who were tragically lost at the hands of abusers.

How can you support Child Abuse Prevention Month? Throughout the month, individuals have shown their support by wearing a blue ribbon on their collars, lapels or elsewhere on their garments.  Blue ribbons can also be displayed on car antennas, mailboxes and tree branches.

April 30 will be Go Blue Day in Henderson County, and citizens are asked to wear blue to show their support for the cause. The group is also asking citizens to encourage their family, friends and colleagues not only to wear blue, but to purchase a 2013 Go Blue T-Shirt. This is the 5th year that Go Blue T-Shirts have been sold and of course, there is a new logo this year! This year’s campaign is “Have a heart, do your part; Prevent child abuse.”

The money raised from T-shirt sales stays in Henderson County to assist with child abuse and sexual assault awareness. All three offices work very closely with the Henderson County Child Advocacy Center, CASA and the East Texas Crisis Center.

To purchase a T-shirt, contact Betty Herriage or DeAnna Browning with the Henderson County District Attorney’s Office at 903-675-6100, or stop by Island Tans.  The shirts are $10, and 2X- 5X are $13. Some of the proceeds from the sale will go toward Henderson County teachers in fifth-grade and below who receive free blue ribbon t-shirts. This is an important detail, because teachers are the frontline of defense against child abuse. 

Additionally, proceeds from the sale of the shirts help fund a fourth-grade poster contest for Henderson County schools, which is designed to educate and raise awareness and child abuse prevention. In collaboration with the agencies’ efforts, Athens Independent School District is allowing its students to wear the T-shirts for Go Blue Day on April 30.

Have a heart and do your part on Tuesday April 30 and GO BLUE!

The Henderson County District Attorney’s Office is also proud to announce the first ever “Crime Victims’ Conference of East Texas.” The conference is a two-day training for law enforcement personnel, prosecutors and victim advocates covering various aspects of victim advocacy. Taking place this Thursday and Friday, topics include lectures involving the East Texas Church Fires, Victim Relief Ministries, Ethics, and various case studies. Each topic is geared toward educating and assisting everyone who works closely with those that have fallen victim to crime.

One of the cases studies focuses on the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell. Chuck and Judy Cox will be traveling to Athens from Washington State. Their daughter, Susan Cox Powell, was last seen on December 6, 2009, in West Valley, Utah. Her disappearance has generated national press attention and a police investigation is ongoing. Significant public scrutiny focused on her husband, Josh Powell, who was considered a person of interest. 

In late 2011, Josh lost custody of the couple’s two young sons after Josh’s father, Steven who was living with Josh and the children and was arrested on voyeurism and child pornography charges. During a supervised visit with his children on February 5, 2012, Josh locked out the social worker, killed the children and himself by setting his home on fire. This will be the first time the Cox family has spoken in Texas regarding their tragic story.

The conference will last from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days and will be held at Lake Athens Baptist Church. Law enforcement officers will receive TCLEOSE credit for the lectures and there will be CLE credit for practicing attorneys as well. Registration fee is only $15 and lunch will be provided on Friday to all those in attendance.

For registration information contact Browning with the Henderson County District Attorney’s Office at 903-675-6100.

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