Editorials

Time to focus on preventing child abuse

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Paper pin wheels fall during the Shades of Blue program as Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, center, and board members of the Parenting Center of Fort Worth raise awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month Monday March 28, 2016.
Paper pin wheels fall during the Shades of Blue program as Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, center, and board members of the Parenting Center of Fort Worth raise awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month Monday March 28, 2016. Special to the Star-Telegram

Earlier this week, 6,213 blue pinwheels were dropped from The Parenting Center roof. Participants marked the fence with blue handprints, one belonging to Mayor Betsy Price, to show commitment to a common cause.

These lively markers of childhood have a deeper meaning than playtime. They are symbols of hope and awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month, which begins April 1.

Price and The Parenting Center started a bit early, having their kickoff in late March, but no one can blame them.

Tarrant County does not have a proud record when it comes to child abuse, and it could benefit from extra days on the nationwide campaign.

Tarrant County had the second highest number of confirmed child abuse cases statewide in 2015, says a report from Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. In 2014, Tarrant County was No. 1.

Though the county dropped down a spot, the number of confirmed child abuse victims actually increased from 6,097 to 6,213.

Sixteen of those cases resulted in death.

Tarrant County needs to pay attention this month and do better.

The Parenting Center has been on the front lines of child abuse prevention since its inception in 1975.

The nonprofit focuses on promoting parenting education and launched its “Shades of Blue” campaign, a fitting name, to help bring more awareness to the various “shades” of abuse.

“We feel that the various ways in which abuse or neglect might look like mirrors the way that different shades of blue might be,” Paul Gravley, executive director at The Parenting Center, told the Star-Telegram.

Child maltreatment isn’t black or white. Not only is there physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect are also common and can cause trauma.

Emotional abuse would include name-calling, withholding love and/or threatening. Neglect is “the failure to meet a child's basic physical and emotional needs,” says The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Another form of child maltreatment getting more awareness is medical child abuse, also known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

The CDC says an adult with childhood abuse trauma could be at higher risk for substance abuse, depression, eating disorders and obesity, among other problems.

Though child abuse prevention is not something to just be encapsulated in a month, having a dedicated time period to bring awareness will help educate the community and decrease Tarrant County’s alarming numbers.

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