By CHRIS AGEE
April is nationally designated as Child Abuse Awareness Month and was ushered in this year with a ribbon cutting and open house at the interdisciplinary Children's Alliance Center for Palo Pinto County.
In the weeks since, several organizations have engaged in awareness events. Many such displays prominently feature the color blue, which is commonly associated with the issue.
CASA of Palo Pinto and Parker counties is planning one of the largest local displays, set for Friday on the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce lawn at 511 E. Hubbard St.
The exhibit will include one blue pinwheel displayed for each Palo Pinto County child currently in the custody of Child Protective Services.
CASA Executive Director Barbara Tucker said that number is more than 100, explaining she hopes the display will serve as a reminder of the effects of child abuse and importance of working toward preventing such abuse in the future.
The pinwheel exhibit will remain on display Friday from noon to 5 p.m.
Interest groups, such as Prevent Child Abuse Texas, encourage individuals to get involved in spreading the message that child abuse is preventable.
Citing CPS statistics showing more than 264,000 Texas children were reported as abused or neglected with nearly 67,000 confirmed cases in 2010 alone, the group's executive director offered his advice.
"We need to raise the public's awareness of these distressing statistics and to encourage people to become involved in the prevention of child abuse." Wendell Teltow said. "One small but public way of showing your support is wearing a blue ribbon during April."
According to CAC statistics, there were 114 confirmed cases of child abuse in Palo Pinto County in 2011 and last year saw a 181 percent year-over-year increase in case filings.
Providing one location in which to bring together law enforcement, CPS, prosecution, medical and mental health professionals, the CAC is designed to encourage a more efficient system of dealing with child abuse while reducing the stress put on young victims through multiple interviews.