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Commissioners urge awareness about child and sexual abuse

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Proclaims April as Awareness and Prevention Month

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HENDERSON COUNTY–April 2021 is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Henderson County, following the April 6 adoption of a Commissioners’ Court proclamation stating the court’s backing.
“It does take a whole village to fight child abuse and neglect,” said Henderson County HELP Center Director Leslie Saunders. There were more than 550,000 calls to the state child abuse intake office in 2020, Saunders said, with more than 300,000 cases of child abuse and neglect reported.
There were 75,350 Texas children confirmed as victims of child abuse and neglect in fiscal year 2020, Saunders added, which is an 11% increase from 2019. 
In Henderson County, Saunders continued, there were 1,035 intakes, 659 investigations and 352 child victims who reside in in the county, of which 310 of those were provided services from the HELP Center.
Saunders said “finding solutions depends on all people” and thanked Program Director Sheila Davis and Direct Services Operations Director Ginger Ford with her office, who are “the true boots on the ground,” Saunders said.
Henderson County’s numbers average about three child abuse intakes, two investigations and one confirmed victim per day, said County Judge Wade McKinney.
“These proclamations are meant to bring awareness, because so many people believe that it’s not our problem, but I think the numbers bear out that it is our problem,” McKinney said.
Della Cooper of the East Texas Crisis Center also spoke about Sexual Assault Awareness Month, saying that there have been 48 victims of sexual assaults and violence so far in 2021, to whom her group has provided counseling and legal and victim advocacy.
“I just want to say thank you again for helping these people out when they need it the most, for Henderson County,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Wendy Spivey said.