Waxahachie Community members recently gathered at The Avenue pond to proclaim April as Child Abuse Awareness Month.

Thursday marked the fifth annual candlelight service to bring awareness in Ellis County.

Rhodie Rawls, CASA of Ellis County executive director, opened the ceremony with statistics that might be startling to some.

“There were 211 children that died in the state of Texas last year from abuse,” Rawls said. “Two of those were right here in Ellis County.”

“That one, to me, is a hard one to grasp,” she added.

The Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Leslie Deen, as well as Ellis County Court of law One Judge Jim Chapman, joined Rawls.

Rawls explained that court-appointed special advocates (CASA) come into the picture when a child is removed by Child Protective Services and is placed into foster care. The ECCAC helps conduct forensic interviews and sees the family through post-care with therapy and other services.

“Almost every eight minutes, a child becomes a victim of abuse or neglect,” Rawls stated.

She continued to explain 56 children enter the foster system in Texas every day. In Ellis County, 59 removals took place last year, which equates to about once a week.

As the sun continued to set over the pond, Ellis County Court of law One Judge Jim Chapman read the proclamation.

“Whereas every child deserves to grow up in a safe, permanent home where his or her physical, emotional, education needs are met,” Chapman began.

He emphasized that child abuse and neglect impacts a community as an entirety and requires input and action to increase awareness.

“In the federal fiscal year 2018, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services confirmed 66,382 victims of child abuse or neglect, including 320 in Ellis County,” Chapman read.

After the proclamation was read, community members, child advocates, volunteers and the motorcycle club, Bikers Against Child Abuse, joined for a group photo.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450