So far in 2014, the community heard the stories of two men sentenced to 99 years, without parole, for “super” aggravated sexual assault of this county’s children — one sentenced by a jury of peers and the other by District Judge Michael Moore.
In investigations preceding the trials, the young children — all under age 6 — told of acts, sensations and feelings that no child that age would ever know or make up. And while the two convicted perpetrators were locked away, there are many more men and women who victimize Palo Pinto County children.
Not all cases of abuse involve sexual assault. Abuse ranges from parental neglect to death of a child.
Mineral Wells Mayor Pro-tem John Upham, center front, signs a proclamation declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, also known as Go Blue for Kids. Standing behind him are leaders and board members representing: of the Children s Alliance Center for Palo Pinto County, Palo Pinto County Child Welfare Board/Rainbow Room and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Palo Pinto County. (Courtesy)
According to local Child Protective Services reports, investigators confirmed 198 child victims in 111 cases of child abuse in the county. In comparison, neighboring Parker County — greater than four times the population of Palo Pinto County — had just double the number of confirmed cases of child abuse.
According to these numbers, on average in 2013, a Palo Pinto County child was a “confirmed victim” of child abuse every 1.8 days.
In 2013, Palo Pinto County CPS:
• Removed 65 children from their homes because of child abuse and neglect.
• Identified 50 children as victims of physical abuse.
• Identified 13 children victims of sexual abuse.
• Identified 38 children as victims of either medical or physical neglect.
Some cases are remedied with willing parents and education. Lives can be turned around for the good through education, awareness and understanding, which is one purpose of National Child Abuse Prevention Month and “Go Blue Day.”
Every Tuesday throughout April, several restaurants will help spread awareness on child-abuse prevention and some will donate a portion of their dine-in proceeds to benefit all local “Go Blue” agencies. Restaurants sharing their support include Shotgun’s, Mr. Jim’s Pizza, Fuzzy’s, Chili’s, Pastafina, Hogg’s Pit, Old School Pizza, Mesquite Pit and Hickey’s Dairy Queen.
Go Blue events include:
• Tuesday, April 8: At the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce and the Palo Pinto County Courthouse, CASA and Go Blue agencies will display blue pinwheels and other items that represent children from Palo Pinto County who are in foster care.
• Wednesday, April 9: Official Go Blue Day. Citizens are encouraged to show support for organizations that work to prevent child abuse and help victims by wearing blue. Find out more by visiting, and “liking,” the Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tccwb.
• Monday, April 14: Balloon release — one for each Palo Pinto County victim of child abuse — at each Mineral Wells ISD campus.
• Thursday, April 24: Child Welfare Board’s “Stars Shine for Palo Pinto Kids” fundraiser. Local stars, including Taylor Hickey, will play at Mineral Wells High School cafeteria. Doors open at 6 p.m. and entertainment begins at 7. There will be appetizers, a silent auction and live auction. Tickets are $15 per person. For more information, call 940-328-2220.
• Sunday, April 27: National Blue Sunday, a day when churches across the nation take time during services to pray for the victims of child abuse and those who rescue them. Visit www.bluesunday.org for more information.
• Tuesday, April 29: Day of Prayer for victims of child abuse and CACPPC Open House.
Each Go Blue non-profit organization has a unique role in helping victims of child abuse. While each enters the scene at different points, all work together to give children a voice.
To report suspected child abuse, call the CPS 24-hour hot line at 800-252-5400.