In 2019, Lamar County had the eighth highest rate of confirmed victims of child abuse or neglect per 1,000 children in the region, according to the East Texas Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
That’s a sobering statistic. At least, it should be.
Year in and year out, hundreds of local children suffer abuse. It can be physical, sexual, mental or emotional. It’s an ugly reality, and it’s one nobody likes to face. But we must face it because it is happening, and it’s happening here at home.
The Childrens Advocacy Center, which provides several services for children who have been victims of abuse, provided services for more than 220 children from Lamar and Red River counties in 2019. Advocates feared Covid-19 pandemic guidelines that kept children at home would allow abusive situations to fester, and it appears that could be true. Through June, the Childrens Advocacy Center had provided services for 158 children — a 30% uptick from the same time in 2019. A few months later, the tally rose to more than 210 local children. That was up 40% from the same time in 2019.
In just a few days, the Childrens Advocacy Center will host its annual fundraiser, the Sweetheart Soiree. Like so many others during the Covid-19 pandemic, this event will be virtual this year. But the need is real.
Childrens Advocacy Center executive director Rebecca Peevy and her team have set up a virtual auction that will begin at 9 a.m. Friday and end at 9 p.m. Saturday. Through advertisements on the center’s Facebook page and website, Peevy said she’s hoping to attract bidders to some enticing auction items, pointing out a Frozen-themed Ice Princess birthday party and weekends at luxury cabins in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Another popular item, Peevy said, is a six-month supply of bread pudding from Crawford’s Hole in the Wall.
Virtual though it may be, the soiree is a win-win for all those who participate. Not only do you get a chance to snag a great item, you’ll be helping local children.
As always, to report child abuse, contact the Child Protective Services Hotline at 800-252-5400 or call your local law enforcement department.