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Edmondson: Caring for our children today creates a better tomorrow – Cross Timbers Gazette | Denton County South | mound of flowers

April is officially known as Child Abuse Awareness Month, but this important topic requires continued attention and action throughout the year. The tragic death of a young Denton boy recently punctuates the problem. Our children are the future, and by working together, we can help them have a future free of abuse.

The Board of Child Protective Services recently hosted a breakfast at the Denton County Administrative Courthouse in Room 2020 and spoke with the Denton County Commissioners Court to raise awareness about the child abuse and its prevalence in today’s society. According to 2021 statistics, over 7,000 reports of child abuse in our county have been received and over 4,000 cases have been attributed to Denton County social workers. More than 250 children were placed with a relative or in foster care. And the best news shared is that 56 children have been adopted into permanent homes.

These statistics remind us that we all have a responsibility to protect children. The saying “It takes a whole village to raise a child” has never been truer than it is today.

Our collective desire is always for children to be loved, nurtured, protected and safe. It is to these ends that we can all come together for the sake of all children in Denton County and beyond.

As we all become aware of the signs and symptoms of child abuse, it allows us to be proactive in protecting children. Some signs of child and adolescent abuse include: Unexplained injuries; Behavioral changes; Fear of certain places or people; Changes in diet; Changes in sleep; Changes in school performance and attendance; Lack of personal care or hygiene; Risky behaviors.

Signs of sexual abuse in young children include: Behaving like a young child (like wetting the bed or sucking your thumb); Has new words for private parts; Resists taking off clothes at appropriate times (bath, bed, toilet, diaper change); Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games; Mimics adult sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animals; Wetting and soiling accidents not related to toilet training.

Signs of sexual abuse in adolescents: Self-harm (cutting/burning); Inadequate personal hygiene; Drug and alcohol abuse; sexual promiscuity; running away from home; Depression, anxiety; suicide attempts; Fear of intimacy or closeness; Compulsive eating or dieting.

What can adults/parents do to keep children safe? Talk to your child: Discuss welcome and unwanted touching (prevention education is synonymous with protection); Start conversations at a young age about abuse; Discuss boundaries – It’s okay to say “no” to an adult; Never keep secrets; Identify safe adults and teach them to your child; Reduce risk – Keep children away from one-on-one situations with other adults; Be vigilant – Most perpetrators are known to their victims. Know the signs – Trust your instincts; If you suspect abuse, report it.

Report suspected abuse at www.txabusehotline.org or call 1-800-252-5400.

The Children’s Advocacy Center for North Texas works by bringing services to the child instead of the child traveling from place to place telling their story and getting the help they need. The Center is not only an advocate for abused children, but also works to educate the public, children and adults on this subject. They currently have educational opportunities that are offered in person or virtually in English or Spanish. And they are always looking for volunteers to help them in their rescue mission. To learn more, visit their website at www.cacnorthtexas.org or contact Michelle Rocha at 972-538-5941.

Remember that we all need to work together to educate our children and prevent any abuse they may experience. Let’s get our “village” together and help reduce this terrible evil in our society.

Contact Commissioner Edmondson by email at [email protected] or call him at 972/434-3960. You can also stop by his office at the Southwest Courthouse, 6200 Canyon Falls Drive, Suite 900, Flower Mound.