Tarrant County had 1,051 fewer confirmed cases of child abuse reported during fiscal 2016 compared with the prior year.
That’s “qualified good news,” Paul Gravley, executive director of The Parenting Center in Fort Worth, said Wednesday. Why? Because Tarrant still had the second most cases in the state behind Harris County.
A more troubling development is that the number of deaths from child abuse or neglect increased by eight to 24, putting Tarrant in a tie with Dallas County.
Fort Worth Councilwoman Ann Zedeh said the statistics are sad.
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“I am pleased to see that we have made progress over the last year in the overall number of cases, but it is a sad statistic and we are really glad to have organizations like [The Parenting Center] working to make improvements in that area.”
Data from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services details cases from Sept. 1, 2015, through Aug. 31. The data offered other statistics of child abuse at a local level:
78 percent of perpetrators were parents
42 percent of them were ages 26 to 35
54 percent of perpetrators were women
24 percent of victims were ages 1 to 3
The Parenting Center released butterflies Wednesday to kick off April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. Butterflies symbolize the transformation of families seeking to overcome abuse.
The event ushered in the center’s “Shades of Blue” fundraising and child-abuse awareness campaign.
The event also featured a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new playground that will be used to offer play therapy for young victims. Plans are to have the playground completed by the end of the summer, Gravley said.
The playground will serve children with different concerns, including children with autism or other special needs, Gravley said. It will have sensory features such as drums to help with the therapy.
“Those children with disabilities are 3.44 times more likely to be abused,” Gravley said. “We want to make sure that we have the space to serve them as well.”
“We serve the family and however the family presents itself,” Gravley added. “Sometimes, it is at risk for abuse , sometimes it is abuse and sometimes, it is a normal family that wants a little bit of help.”
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.