High number of child abuse cases reported in area

April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness month. More than one thousand cases of child abuse and neglect were reported in Potter and Randall counties last year. It's a number children advocates say we need to change. That's why they're using this month to reach out and educate the public.

Children are the most innocent victims of abuse, sometimes even too small to voice their pain and fears. Last year, Texas saw more than 66,000 confirmed cases of abuse, 60% of those cases are under the age of six. Close to 300 children were killed because of abuse. Shocking numbers that have advocates asking the community to step up and help.

"If we can get this awareness out in the community people can educate themselves they can know what the sign and symptoms of abuse and neglect are and then they can know what their resources are," said CASA Executive Director, Lara Escobar.

Potter and Randall counties out rate the State of Texas in the average number of cases reported per 1,000 children. Lara Escobar of CASA said Potter County is significantly higher at almost 20 and Randall County at close to 10.

"We actually have higher incidents of abuse in Potter and Randall County then the state rate and that's not something we can ignore," said Escobar.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a month dedicated to raising public awareness.

"Educate yourself know what the sign and symptoms of abuse are. Know what agencies are doing the work in the community that you can get involved in and if you suspect a child is in immediate danger, don't hesitate call 911 immediately".

Escobar said there are several signs of abuse to look for.

"If you see that a child is becoming more inward, more reclusive or obviously the signs of bruising, different stages of the brusing the child's not coming around. Maybe they're wearing a long sleeve shirt in the middle of summer."

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services offers a 24-hour hotline for people to call if they suspect abuse or are a victim themselves. That number is 1-800-252-5400.