It's a simple gesture really, just tying a blue ribbon to a fence; but the staff at the Depelchin Children's Center says it's the first step in raising awareness about child abuse and neglect. It‘s a problem they think is more widespread than you might believe.
"Every ten seconds a case of child abuse is reported in the country and here in Harris County alone last year there were 5,929 victims of abuse. That's confirmed victims," said Atasha Kelly-Harris.
The organization hopes people will stop by and pick up a ribbon to tie on the fence. The goal is to get one ribbon up for every confirmed case. The ribbons are free. It will only cost you a little bit of time. It's to raise awareness because April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month.
This campaign comes at an interesting time. At a time when a case of child abuse has developed that has shocked veteran law enforcement officers and thrust the problem of child abuse in Harris County into the national spotlight, specifically, the five-year-old boy who'd been locked in a closet below the stairs at his parent's home and was abused and starved.
In this case, like so many other abuse cases, people wonder who besides family members might have known about this? And if they did,why didn't they say something? Experts say people are often reluctant to report suspected abuse.
"Many people think that they have to have proof that the abuse has happened or is happening. It's not the expectation that you've investigated and determined that something is happening," said DeJaun Jernigan. She also said that the mere suspicion is enough to report it. They know there are more abuse cases than these confirmed cases out here. Next April's goal? To need fewer ribbons.
The statewide hotline is 1-800-252-5400
Also, visit the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services online at http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/.