Community members raising awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month

Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 8:35 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - 565 children were confirmed victims of child abuse in Wichita County in 2021. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and members of the community are raising awareness.

More than three million children across the US experience some form of abuse each year. 30-40% of those victims are abused by a family member, with another 50% being abused by someone they know and trust. CASA, along with many child care advocate groups, came together to shed light on this issue.

“You can increase your knowledge about abuse and neglect,” Lisa Chlate, program director for Teen Emergency Shelter, said. “It really promotes awareness in our community and we really want people to focus on this, especially in April.”

One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before they turn 18.

“I am here to let kids know when they feel hopeless and they have no one and their back is against the wall, they don’t have a mom, they don’t have a dad; I am here to be that voice to let them know you are going to make it,” Brooke Shewmake, CASA supervisor, said. “You are going to beat all of these demons. It is not going to be easy but it is going to be worth it.”

Brooke and Jayce Graham are CASA Supervisors, helping kids everyday. The same way they were helped when they were kids. Both are survivors of abuse and neglect.

“I kind of experienced a whole bunch of stuff that I honestly don’t even remember,” Graham said. “I don’t remember anything before the age of 13. That is something that all I’ve heard is stories of what’s kind of happened in my childhood, so that is something that has brought me here. I want to give those kids memories that they can remember.”

“It was important for me as a child when I was in foster care to have my CASA,” Shewmake said. “My CASA was the one who came and saw me every month. When I pushed her away she pulled me closer. I would not have survived if I did not have my CASA.”

They are wanting to change the script for every kid because they know what it’s like to walk in their shoes.

“I think it is important to break the cycle, that is why I’m here,” Shewmake said. “As a child it was important for me to have my CASA but it was even more important for me to grow up and to be the exact opposite than what I had, so that my children wouldn’t have to endure the things that I had to.”

All it takes is one helping hand to impact a child’s life and help them through the tough times.

“If you have somebody that is standing up for you, backing you up, who’s going to sit there and listen to you and who is going to keep pulling you back in,” Graham said. “It is something that is really important for these kids that are going through so much.”

“While we may not be able to heal and mend bruises or scars, we can be consistent and show them what healthy relationships are going to be like in their future,” Shewmake said.

CASA and child care advocates will be holding events throughout the month to raise awareness about child abuse.

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