By Carlos Marquez III
Senior News Reporter
The Child Help organization reported that every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies involving more than 6.6 million children who have experienced child abuse. At least one report of child abuse is made every ten seconds and in 2014, state agencies found an estimated 702,000 victims of child maltreatment. Individuals who reported six or more adverse childhood experiences had an average life expectancy two decades shorter than those who reported none.
In a study done by the Child Help organization, 80 percent of 21-year-olds who reported experiencing childhood abuse met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness month and the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center reported that they served 465 victims of child abuse last year.
The Hays Caldwell Women’s Center is a not-for-profit organization which offers free, short term counseling and advocacy services to victims of family violence, sexual assault and child abuse who reside within the Hays County and Caldwell county area. They also provide several resources of education for healthy and unhealthy relationships, child abuse awareness and internet safety. Hays Caldwell Women’s Center Volunteer Coordinator Zoe Arabzadegan says the organization created a display to honor Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“We wanted to create a visual display,” Arabzadegan said. “Something that would be impactful when people looked at it, because you know, 465 is quite a bit. So we wanted something interactive that people could participate in and you know also, really see how many victims there are in our community.”
The traveling display of blue paper flowers was revealed at a luncheon on April 8 for National Wear Blue Day where participants and volunteers came together to discuss aspects of Child Abuse. Arabzadegan says that the luncheon proved to be insightful on the effects of Child Abuse for the community.
“So we had it on the wall and we had photo props that we used,” Arabzadegan said. “And at that meeting or luncheon rather we, with HCWC staff, we talked about how we got involved in child abuse, you know, as a profession and some of the cases that people have worked that have kept them going because it is a very tough job. We watched a video that had to do with kind of the impact of abuse on children and then the video, I think it was about 20 to 30 minutes long, it showed the progression. The girl who was the main character in the video actually ended up growing up and was a functioning member of society so it had to do with the hopefulness that sometimes we forget about and kind of overcoming those obstacles.”
The Hays Caldwell Women’s Center encourages the local community to continue participating in Child Abuse Prevention Month by wearing blue and posting pictures on Social Media with the hashtag #StopTheHurt. The center is also currently accepting donations for the cause whether it be money or time spent volunteering at the center.