Advocacy group reads ‘names’ of 27,000 Dallas County children abused in 2021 – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Abused or neglected North Texas children are making their voices heard this month.
April is National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month and a child advocacy group has paid a touching tribute to the thousands of Dallas County children who were abused or neglected in the past year.
The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center’s “Save Jane Awareness” awareness campaign was relaunched Friday morning by taking a stand against child abuse.
Participants at various locations across the county read aloud the names of 27,484 “Jane Doe” or “John Doe” children and their ages. Because the children are minors, their real names are protected.
“I just read names earlier today and it’s so powerful to say that name out loud and that age to know that this is a helpless child and has been victimized. abuse or neglect,” said Lana Ahrens of the Dallas Children’s. Advocacy Center. “It’s so powerful to say these names and ages out loud because we have ages ranging from 0 to 17.”
April 1, the first day of National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, was a tragic reminder of why advocacy is needed when Denton Police revealed 7-year-old Phoenix Ho died after enduring weeks of horrible abuse. Police have arrested the boy’s mother, Sabrina Ho, and her boyfriend, Todd Shaw, in connection with his death. Shaw and Ho and charged with criminal injury to a child, his own by omission, with other possible charges pending the outcome of the medical examiner’s report.
“The death of a child affects the whole community,” said Kristen Howell of the Children’s Advocacy Center for North Texas. “The only thing I can hope for is that it brings a community together, because it makes you realize that it can literally happen next door and we will all have to report abuse like this to the authorities.”
The Children’s Advocacy Center for North Texas provides healing and education services in Denton, Jack, and now Wise counties.
Howell said on the same day we learned of Ho’s death, “we also had two other serious injuries to a child that day that will change both of their lives.”
Howell said the nonprofit has seen an increase in child abuse cases in some of the fastest growing areas it serves, including Wise County and part of Frisco in the county. of Dentons.
The agency only recently began providing therapy and education services to residents of Wise County and has already provided therapy services to 115 children without having to travel a long distance.
“Wise County was the largest county in Texas that did not have a dedicated defense center. And so actually in the midst of COVID, when everyone was hunkering down and maybe getting smaller as an organization, our organization saw a huge need and decided to go for it,” Howell said.
To put the increase in their services into perspective, Howell said it took the agency 20 years to administer 1,000 forensic interviews in a single year. However, over the past three years, the number of forensic interviews has almost doubled.
“We’re seeing a 33% increase in the number of serious reports, so it’s not just more reports, it’s more reports that are more serious,” she added.
Advocates at the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center continue to train teachers to notice signs of child abuse that might present in the presence of physical marks or behavioral changes.
Another red flag is if a child doesn’t want to be alone with someone.
Fans always worry towards the end of the school year.
“When [children] they’re not in school, they’re not seen by their educators, by that protective caregiver, so we’re definitely seeing a drop in reporting over the summer. This is why we need the community to be aware,” Ahrens said.
Texas adults are mandatory reporters, which means you are required by law to report possible cases of child abuse to authorities.
“It’s a taboo subject that people don’t want to believe exists, but 1 in 10 children will experience it and so we just need to come together as a community to stand up for children,” Howell said.
- If you think a child is in immediate danger, call 911.
- Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center at 214-818-2600
- Children’s Advocacy Center for North Texas at 972-317-2818
- Denton County Friends of Family 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at 940-382-7273
- Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 You can report online at txabusehotline.org.