By LIBBY CLUETT
PALO PINTO COUNTY – As April gestures in growth and renewal, it is also a month set aside to reflect on child abuse prevention.
So far in 2014, the community heard the stories of two men sentenced to 99 years, without parole, for “super” aggravated sexual assault of this county’s children – one sentenced by a jury of peers and the other by District Judge Michael Moore.
In investigations leading up to the trials, the young children – all under age 6 – told of acts, sensations and feelings that no child that age would ever know or make up. And while these two convicted perpetrators are locked away, there are many more men and women who victimize Palo Pinto County children.
Not all cases of abuse involve sexual assault. Abuse ranges from parental neglect to death of a child.
According to local Child Protective Services reports, investigators confirmed 198 child victims in 111 cases of child abuse in the county. In comparison, neighboring Parker County – greater than four times the population of Palo Pinto County – had just double the number of confirmed cases of child abuse.
According to these numbers, on average in 2013, a Palo Pinto County child was a “confirmed victim” of child abuse every 1.8 days.
In 2013, Palo Pinto County CPS:
• Removed 65 children from their homes because of child abuse and neglect.
• Identified 50 children as victims of physical abuse.
• Identified 13 children victims of sexual abuse.
• Identified 38 children as victims of either medical or physical neglect.
Some cases are remedied with willing parents and education and lives can be turned around for the good through education, awareness and understanding, which is one purpose of National Child Abuse Prevention Month and “Go Blue Day.”
Go Blue events, organizations
There are several local “Go Blue” organizations committed to fighting child abuse and caring for its victims. This year, the Palo Pinto County Child Welfare Board, the new Children’s Alliance Center for Palo Pinto County (CACPPC) and Palo Pinto County Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) are working together during April to promote awareness through many activities.