The Fannin County Children’s Center will offer two free classes this month to help adults spot the signs of ongoing child abuse and prevent children from ending up as victims in the future.


The classes will be held at the Fannin County Children’s Center in Bonham on July 24 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on July 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Participants will work from an interactive workbook, watch educational videos, hold discussions and hear recorded testimony from abuse survivors. The course is designed specifically for parents, teachers, school personnel, child care workers, coaches, church staff and other professionals or volunteers who work with children.


“The classes are very important because often times children will not report themselves as being the victim of abuse,” Fannin County Children’s Center Executive Director Sandy Barber said. “It’s really up to the adults to be able to spot the signs and know what to do to protect kids from even being in a situation where there’s potential for abuse. Education is critically important in trying to intervene early on.”


Barber said the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in Fannin County receives approximately 400 reports of child abuse each month and of those reported cases, investigators identified 99 confirmed victims within the county last year. The agency director said children are often targeted and abused by adults because they can be more easily threatened or manipulated and simply may not know what actions constitute physical, sexual and emotional abuse.


“It can be their age, it can be their ability to communicate, their development level and it can also be the fact that they know this person,” Barber said of the hurdles preventing child abuse victims from coming forward. “They may depend on that person for food and shelter and safety. They may love that person, even though they don’t love what that person does to them sometimes. It’s all those things and more.”


Barber said children who are abused are at greater risk of running away from home, dropping out of school, engaging in suicidal or self-harming behavior, suffering from mental illness and becoming homeless.


“It takes a very big toll on our community,” Barber said of child abuse. “If we can prevent kids from being abused, that’s our No. 1 goal. And then, even for those who already have been abused, the earlier we can intervene, the better off that child will be, the better off that family will be and the better off our community will be.”


The Fannin County Children’s Center is located at 112 West Fifth Street in Bonham. All participants who successfully complete the class will receive a certificate. Classes are limited to roughly 30 participants. Those interested in attending are asked to register at www.fanninccc.org. For additional information, call the Children’s Center at 903-583-4339.