Protecting Burnet County kids is everyone's job

By Caroline Ragsdill


Burnet County Child Welfare Board

Members of the Burnet County Child Welfare Board, Hill Country Children's Advocacy Center, and CASA of the Highland Lakes will join together in kicking off Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month this week.

The BCWB, HCCAC, and CASA invite the community to witness a reading of a Proclamation declaring April Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month at Commissioners court Tuesday, April 9 at 9 a.m. at the Burnet County Courthouse, 220 South Pierce Street, Burnet, followed by a balloon release on the courthouse lawn to honor child abuse victims.

While it is good to bring awareness during April, child abuse is with us every day of every year, and we as a community need to be aware of the problem and take action when needed. We probably all have childhood memories of holding a pinwheel out the car window to let it spin in the wind.

The pinwheel is a symbol of childhood innocence, something we wish for every child: a fun-filled childhood with caring nurturing parents. But in reality, that is not the case. Burnet County has one of the highest rates of child abuse per capita in Texas.

That is not a statistic we can be proud of. Protecting kids is everyone's job, not just the job of The Burnet County Child Welfare Board, or CASA, or the Children's Advocacy Center. Each of these agencies plays a role in helping kids through the trauma of abuse and neglect. However, everyone should be aware of the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect and report it when necessary.

Some signs and symptoms to look for include injuries that are suspicious or unexplained, unkempt or dirty appearance, malnourishment or inadequate medical/dental care. With children that you are around frequently, you may notice sudden changes in behavior or school performance. Some of these changes may include mood swings, fear or anxiety around a particular person or place, nightmares, or sleep problems.

Always take it seriously if a child speaks to you about being abused or if you have suspicions that something is wrong. Remain calm, write down your observations, or listen carefully to what the child says. State law requires anyone who suspects child abuse/neglect to report it. You can do so by calling the Child Protective Services hotline at 800-252-5400 and you can remain anonymous.

If you fear a child is in imminent danger, please call the police. Let's all be alert to the children around us every day and report any suspicious behaviors. Together, we can help all children have a safe and loving environment. Together, we can become a more effective safety net for the most vulnerable citizens of our community.

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