Making a difference together

Community shows support for Child Abuse Prevention Month

SAN BENITO — There was a sea of people who all gathered for a purpose.

And nearly every one of them was wearing blue.

From high school students and city officials to Girl Scout troops, local law enforcement and bikers, they all came together to show their support for the fight to end child abuse.

The Cameron County Children’s Advocacy Center hosted a candlelight vigil last night at Monica and Maggie’s House in San Benito in honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

For the past 23 years, the annual event has been held to bring awareness to child abuse and to remember the children whose lives have been taken due to abuse and neglect.

According to Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz, child abuse is occurring in “almost epidemic proportions” not just in the area, but across the nation.

He served as a speaker for the candlelight vigil.

“We’re here to remember, recognize and recommit,” Saenz said during the ceremony. “Maybe child abuse will never end, but that doesn’t mean we will give up. We will never ring the bell.”

The mission of the Cameron County Children’s Advocacy Center is to serve and advocate for child victims of abuse through education, prevention, intervention and recovery.

Advocacy Center Executive Director Anna De La Cruz said year after year, the number of child abuse victims has continued to increase.

Last year, the Center provided services to more than 1,000 children.

“That’s only where there had been a report of abuse or neglect in the home,” De La Cruz said. “Imagine all of those other children that went without speaking to somebody and went home living that life of fear every single day.”

De La Cruz believes events like the candlelight vigil “definitely brings awareness to the community.”

“We need to all come together and hopefully find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for a child to be able to speak and be free,” De La Cruz said. “Children are our future and we have an obligation to keep them safe.”

About the cause

• Monica and Maggie’s House specializes in conducting videotaped forensic interviews of children ages two to 17 who have been physically or sexually abused, or have witnessed violent crime.

• The Cameron County Children’s Advocacy Center offers free therapy services for child victims of abuse and their non-offending family members.

• To report child abuse call 1-800-252-5400 or go to www.txabusehotline.org.