April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. But, at Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County (www.cacdc.org) it’s an everyday goal. There are thousands of children living in abusive situations. They live with it because they’re too young, innocent, and powerless to break free.
Whether it’s sexual abuse, or repeated physical assault, these future adults suffer in silence in a world that must appear cruel and hostile to them. Those who have been fortunate enough to grow up in loving, nurturing households cannot begin to understand the torment and self-devaluation that these children face each day. Living in a world of giants, they need to rely on the decency of those who have authority over them. When their trust has been violated, to whom do they turn?
Hopefully, someone will recognize evidence of their distress, and intervene. Perhaps a schoolteacher notices that one of the student’s academic grades has taken a downward turn. Maybe a next-door neighbor has, from time to time, observed unusual bruises on a child. Or, as is the case very often, the non-offending parent might file a report with the police, alleging misconduct toward the child. That’s when the child protection agencies swing into action. Providing a safe, non-threatening atmosphere, the Denton County Children’s Advocacy Center offers a child friendly environment so necessary during the early stages of trauma reduction.
There was a time, not long ago, when investigations were conducted in the cold, severe surroundings of a police station. Such an atmosphere can further traumatize a child who has already been struggling to survive in an oppressive climate. In addition, the CACDC provides professional counselors who serve an emotional healing function that gently moves the child from a state of confusion and shock, to one of comfort and security. It is especially important at this time to reduce the fear and anxiety of a child who will need to be involved in the criminal justice process subsequent to the offender’s arrest.
As part of a capital campaign to raise funds for an expansion of CACDC’s facilities, my wife Annette and I sponsored an event on Saturday, April 18, at my sister-in-law’s home in Flower Mound.
Lucy Weir, always a gracious host, opened her lovely home to about 35 guests who came out on a stormy evening to learn more about the efforts of CACDC to prevent child abuse. It was not a fundraiser, but merely an opportunity to get the word out to some of the influential and compassionate residents of the North Texas community.
Flower Mound Police Department Detective Joe Adcock, who directs the Crimes Against Children unit, spoke about the interaction between the police and the CACDC. Dan Leal, Executive Director of CACDC, talked about the proposed new facility and how many more children’s lives could be positively affected by it.
The featured speaker for the event was Texas State Rep. Tan Parker who gave an eloquent review of the legislation passed over the last few years dealing with harsh treatment of child abusers. In addition, he cited laws that deal aggressively with sex traffickers in the state. Rep. Parker, Chairman of the House Committee on Corrections, who was recently elected Chairman of the House Republican Caucus, is also on the Advisory Board of CACDC and is an indefatigable advocate for child abuse prevention.
We were thrilled to have so many caring people attend this very important gathering. Sheriff Will Travis, one of the hardest working elected officials in the county, promised he’d be there, albeit a bit late, after attending the 20-year memorial to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. True to his word, Travis showed up, even as the hurricane sirens and ominous clouds were raucously grumbling in the night skies.
Once again I’m moved to say that we are fortunate indeed to live in an area in which so many decent people dedicate themselves to the protection of the most vulnerable among us. Working as a team, they form a compassionate bridge that reaches out to those who formerly believed they had been abandoned by an unsympathetic world. Had it not been for the commitment of a devoted few, their belief might have been justified.