How You Can Help in the Fight Against Child Abuse
by Senator Carlos Uresti
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and as many of you know, this is an issue that is very close to my heart. In the aftermath of the core-shaking death of Jovonie Ochoa on Christmas Day 2003, I founded the Blue Ribbon Task Force. This task force is a collection of citizens, community leaders, and local businesses who have come together to raise awareness and contribute to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Oftentimes, abuse and neglect can be prevented by making parental support available to parents who just need a little help. According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services' 2007 Data Book, Texas had 71,344 confirmed cases of child abuse and/or neglect in the 2007 fiscal year. These are children who can be saved and be spared the torment of living another day surrounded by terrible circumstances. Last year, 222 Texas children died before we could get the message of prevention to their caretakers.
A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 1 in 50 infants under the age of 1 are victims of nonfatal child abuse or neglect. What is even more startling is that of those children, nearly a third of them were one week old or younger. I believe these statistics demonstrate an incredible need for not only parental support, but also parental training and education leading up to child birth so that new parents know what to expect when they take their baby home from the hospital. Solving this problem is our responsibility, and I call all of you to take a proactive stance in fighting this injustice. We need to reexamine the way we tackle the problem of child abuse, and I know we must begin from the ground up by looking at root cause issues. Everything from improving public education to increasing access to healthcare will have a positive effect on all Texas families as we work together to right the wrongs of child abuse and neglect.
Surprisingly, contributing to this effort is not a difficult task. Simply go to www.blueribbontaskforce.com and click the “How You Can Help” link. We have many organizations listed that need your help now. Other resources are available at www.childhelp.org and you can call their hotline at 1-800-4-ACHILD for around-the-clock counseling for caretakers in need of immediate support. On a more personal level, you can help parents directly by visiting, and offering to watch their children when stress levels get too high and they are in need of a “time out.” Tell your neighbors about helpful resources such as 2-1-1, and ALWAYS report suspected child abuse. You can make an anonymous report to the Child Abuse Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1-800-252-5400. You might be the only chance a child has, so please don’t let them down.
Carlos I. Uresti is the senator from State Senate District 19, a 23 county area stretching along the U.S.-Mexico border, from San Antonio to El Paso County, including all or part of the following counties: Bandera, Bexar, Brewster, Culberson, Crockett, El Paso, Edwards, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kinney, Loving, Maverick, Medina, Pecos, Presidio, Real, Reeves, Sutton, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Ward, and Winkler. Covering 55,000 square miles, the district contains 62 school districts and spans two time zones.
For more information please call Arthur Reyna or Vanessa Macias Ballou at 512-463-0119.