Wichita Falls, TX -
If you are out and about in Wichita County, you may notice people wearing blue ribbons or see colorful pinwheels spinning in their front yards. It's not just decoration. It's to celebrate Child Abuse Prevention Month and a call to action to help end the cycle of child abuse and neglect.
A new report by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is shedding light on child abuse in Texas. In 2014, Child Protective Services investigated 168,164 allegations of child abuse or neglect and more than 1,700 cases in Wichita County.
Last year, 151 children died at the hands of their parents. DFPS said 66,572 children were victims of abuse or neglect. These numbers do not sit lightly with state lawmakers or Denise Roberts, Executive Director at Patsy's House, a child advocacy center in Wichita Falls. Roberts said local number are not too pleasing either. Child Protective Services investigated more than 1,500 cases of child abuse or neglect in Wichita County in 2013 and more than 1,700 cases in 2014.
“Our community is very aware of what's going on. We have a Children's Advocacy Center. We have other entities in town that keep it out in front of people. Our law enforcement, CPS and DA is very proactive in what they do. Unfortunately, that's probably the most positive spin I can do on that. Anytime those numbers are high, it's not good for any of us,” said Roberts.
Roberts said most of the cases they see at Patsy's House are child sexual abuse. However, there are other cases involving physical abuse and child witnesses neglect.
There are numerous ways in which children seek help. Some make an outcry to classmates, teachers, counselors or administrators at school. In other cases a child, parent or even a family member may notify authorities for help. There are also several ways you or someone you know can get assistance. You can call police, CPS or even reach out to staff at Patsy's House.
Throughout the month of April, Child Abuse Prevention Month -- Patsy's House will be accepting donations for pinwheels. Each pinwheel represents a child abuse case reported to CPS in Wichita County in 2014.
The organization has placed more than 1,705 pinwheels outside of Patterson Honda. Its goal is for everyone to make a $20 donation and help remove all the pinwheels.