CPS marks Go Blue Day to expose child abuse

Several local leaders including Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames, Jefferson County Dist

Child Protective Services partnered with Southeast Texas leaders to participate in Go Blue Day, an event targeted at bringing awareness to child abuse by donning the color blue, at the Chief C.A. Shelton Fire Pavilion in downtown Beaumont on April 10.

Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames began the presentation by proclaiming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Beaumont and celebrating the countless lives of children saved through the tireless efforts of community leaders and organizations. Mayor Ames, along with Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham, Beaumont Police Chief Jimmy Singletary and family judges Larry Thorne and Randy Shelton, also spoke about the importance of keeping children protected against abuse while also remembering those who were too small to fight for themselves.

“No child should ever go to bed or wake up scared,” Ames said. “And it is the responsibility of every adult who comes into contact with a child to protect his or her right to live a safe and nurturing childhood.”

Child Protective Services (CPS) investigated more than 168,164 allegations of child abuse or neglect in Texas last year. According to reports, 151 children died at the hands of a parent or other caregiver. More than 66,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect, and more than 17,000 had to be removed from their homes for their own protection. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Office of Child Safety found that 8 out of 10 children who died from abuse or neglect in Texas over a four-year period were 3 years old or younger, and most died at the hands of parents or someone they knew.

“If you suspect abuse, please report it so we can investigate,” said Judge John Specia, commissioner of the Texas DFPS. “But we also need to reach parents before they reach a breaking point. So many Texas parents are young, poor and under stress. They need the help of their families and communities to succeed and keep kids safe.”

Last year in Jefferson County, there were 693 confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect. That’s up more than 50 cases from the year before.

District Attorney Bob Wortham said those numbers are unacceptable, but with the continuous aid given by social workers and local agencies, the number will decrease.

“The District Attorney’s Office isn’t the only office in town that helps these children, and we are so very proud to have them,” Worham said.

He went on to thank CASA, CPS, Beaumont Community Partners, The Garth House, Buckner’s Children Village, first responders and foster families.

“Where would we be without you?” Wortham asked. “We would be nothing without the support from all of our community.”

The event also included tributes from the Odom Middle School Jazz Band, and performances from the King Middle School Choir.

After the presentation, guests were invited to march down Main Street to “show their blue” and bring attention to the cause.

Gov. Greg Abbott proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month statewide, and all across Texas, CPS is joining local governments, community groups, service organizations, activists and others to put the spotlight on preventing, recognizing and reporting child abuse.

Wortham encouraged the public to take the lead and stand up for the ones who cannot stand for themselves.

“There are not enough thank yous to go out and give each and every one of these people a pat on the back,” Wortham said. “There is nothing that we can do too much of to protect our future within these children.”

To learn the signs of child abuse and report your concerns, call the Texas Abuse and Neglect Hotline at (800) 252-5400 or visit TxAbuseHotline.org.

 

Brandi Haskett can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 227, or by e-mail at brandi [at] theexaminer [dot] com.

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