Balloon release marks Child Abuse Prevention Month locally
By John Dilmore
Cass County last week joined communities across Texas and the nation in marking April as Child Abuse Prevention Month with events aimed at increasing awareness of the problem and promoting educational efforts aimed at finding solutions.
Locally, that took the form of a balloon release event held at the Cass County Criminal Justice in Linden on Friday morning. A crowd gathered to release a number of blue balloons, each of which represented an incident of abuse.
“We were involved with 71 children who were removed from their homes and there’s a balloon for each of them,” said April Hays, a local conservatorship supervisor for Child Protective Services.
Hays later added, “We did not have any child deaths this year. We have in the past.” When child deaths have occurred as a result of abuse, a white balloon has been released for the child involved, she said.
In addition to the number of children removed from abusive situations, Hays shared other local statistics with the crowd prior to the balloons’ release, including: There have been 197 investigations completed, and 42 children have been involved with Family-Based Safety Services. Also, 36 children have been removed from situations in other counties and placed here. Meanwhile, the average daily caseload for investigators looking into cases of abuse ranged from 6.2 to 9.9.
Sixty children were released from care with “good outcomes,” she said, including 21 children who were returned home and 30 who were placed in the custody of relatives. Nine adoptions were completed.
The statistics provided are from April 2016 to the present.
Hays also briefly explained the tradition of people wearing blue ribbons during Child Abuse Prevention Month, which began in 1989 with a Virginia grandmother, Bonnie Finney, whose grandson died from abuse inflicted by his parents. She tied a blue ribbon around the antenna of her vehicle as a way of remembering her grandson and alerting her community to the tragic consequences of abuse.
This month, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is spending more than $1 million on the Help for Parents, Hope for Kids campaign, which includes television ads in all Texas media markets throughout April as well as an online/mobile campaign that runs to the end of August. Their website, HelpAndHope.org, offers parents videos, articles and other tips designed to help deal with some of the challenging aspects of parenting.
The campaign’s Facebook page -- HelpAndHopeKids -- shares ideas and resources for families as well.
Report Abuse or Neglect
If you suspect child abuse or neglect, contact the Texas Abuse Hotline at 800-252-5400 or report online at www.txabusehotline.org.