DANIEL CLIFTON • EDITOR
“I think the first thing is people need to be aware that it does happen,” said Ragsdill about child abuse. “And knowing the signs.”
The Burnet County Child Welfare Board, the Llano Child Welfare Board, and other child advocacy programs across the Highland Lakes are working to bring the plight of child abuse to the public eye during April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“One of the first things you can do is just learn what the signs of child abuse are and then pay attention to the kids in your life,” Ragsdill said.
The children in your life could be in your family or kids with whom you have regular contact through activities such as youth sports or Sunday school. If you suspect a child is being abused, contact the authorities. Too often people read about a child who’s spent years as a victim of abuse, and after it comes to light, wonder why someone didn’t do anything.
With awareness and education, you could be the person who saves a child.
And it does happen, Ragsdill said.
Last year, according to the Burnet County Child Welfare Board, 184 Burnet County children were victims of abuse and/or neglect.
Local child advocacy groups are sponsoring Go Blue Day events to help raise awareness of child abuse. On these days, Ragsdill said people are encouraged to wear blue, the color representing child abuse awareness and prevention.
The Llano County Child Welfare Board is hosting a Go Blue Day at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, at the Llano County Courthouse, 832 Ford St. in Llano. There will be a proclamation and balloon release.
The Burnet County board is observing Go Blue Day on Friday, April 7. They are also asking people to wear blue throughout the day.
On Tuesday, April 11, at 9 a.m. in the Burnet County Courthouse, 220 Pierce St. in Burnet, the Burnet County Child Welfare Board, the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center, and CASA for the Highland Lakes Area will join with the Burnet County Commissioners in recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Throughout the month, Child Welfare Board members will attend several organization meetings to talk about the Go Blue Dat campaign and child abuse awareness and prevention.
Go Blue Day originated in 1989 when a Virginia grandmother started a blue ribbon campaign as a tribute to her 3-year-old grandson. The toddler died at the hands of his mother’s abusive boyfriend.
The blue represents the bruises the child suffered.
Child advocacy groups and child advocates have since used blue as a symbol of child abuse awareness and prevention across the country.
The past two years, the Burnet County Child Welfare Board hung shoes in a tree at the Burnet County Courthouse, each pair symbolizing a child removed from their home due to abuse. This year, Ragsdill said, they are trying a different awareness campaign with a poster featuring a little girl pulling a duffel bag behind her.
The duffel bag is loaded with items from the Burnet County Child Protection Service office’s Rainbow Room, where kids who have just been removed from their homes due to neglect and/or abuse pick up things they need such as clothing, toiletries, and maybe a toy or two.
“The shoes in the tree was good, but it was only in Burnet. We wanted to get the message out around the county,” Ragsdill said. “We want to get the posters out in as many restaurants, stores, and other places as we can.”
Businesses can get a poster by calling Ragsdill at (512) 755-5776.
On April 24, CASA for the Highland Lakes Area and the Marble Falls Daybreak Rotary Club are hosting a ceremony from 5:30-6 p.m. at Johnson Park, 230 Ave. J in Marble Falls, to honor all victims of child abuse and neglect. The public is invited.
“A big part of preventing child abuse is making people aware of it,” Ragsdill said. “It does happen in our own community.”