The Athens Review
It isn’t unusual for us to turn on the television and see tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombings and comfort ourselves by thinking, “That kind of stuff doesn’t happen here.”
We have no such comforts when it comes to child abuse in Henderson County.
The state average for the number of abused children is 11.2 per 1,000. According to the Athens-based HELP Center and its Child Advocacy Center, that number is three times as high — 30.2 abused children per 1,000 — right here in Henderson County.
Of the 18,311 children in the county, 31.2 percent have been the victim of a confirmed case of abuse or neglect through Child Protective Services (and for the record, 28.1 percent live in poverty).
According to the most recent statistics, Henderson County officials received 1,034 cases of alleged abuse in 2009. Of those, 894 were assigned to a case worker, 674 progressed to an investigation and 354 resulted in a confirmed case of abuse or neglect.
Let those numbers sink in for a minute. A child living within the boundaries of Henderson County is three times as likely to be abused as the average child in Texas. Nearly one child out of every three here will be the victim of child abuse.
That’s what makes this such an important month. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and our county’s child advocates annually spring into action to make sure their cause is heard.
Child abuse, they remind us, isn’t merely physical. It can be emotional, verbal or sexual in nature. Neglect — failing to provide children with even the most basic daily needs — counts, too.
This Tuesday, April 30, has been declared “Go Blue Day” in Henderson County. Throughout the month, blue T-shirts have been sold in anticipation of this day so we can band together and make a statement against child abuse.
Printed on the shirts is a simple phrase: “Have a heart. Do your part. Prevent child abuse.”
Our employees will proudly wear these blue shirts on Tuesday to make that public statement, and we’ll be joined by hundreds and hundreds of others who will do the same.
We vigorously applaud our law enforcement officials, our prosecutors and our child advocacy agencies that work together to prevent abuse when possible and deal with it through the appropriate channels when necessary.
Our part, as a community, is to report abuse when we see it and do everything in our power to raise awareness. The often-silent victims are likely closer than you think. They are sitting in your classrooms, in your church pews and next to you at the ballgame.
That means child abuse isn’t someone else’s problem. It’s our problem.
— Athens Review