Multiple cities and Grayson County itself took the opportunity to raise awareness on the issue of child abuse this week. The city councils for Sherman and Denison, along with the county Commissioners Court, signed proclamations this week recognizing April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.


The proclamations were presented to representatives with Court Appointed Special Advocates of Grayson County, with other children’s advocates present at each of the presentations.


“Each year, we get the opportunity to issue many proclamations, but I would dare to say there are none that are more important than this one,” Denison Mayor Janet Gott said.


As part of Denison’s proclamation, Gott said there were more than 66,300 confirmed victims of child abuse in Texas last year. Of those victims, just over 500 were in Grayson County alone.


“We cannot begin to express our appreciation for the work you do to protect our children,” Gott said.


Sherman council member Pam Howeth read a similar proclamation at the City Council meeting on Monday.


“We urge all citizens to work together to reduce child abuse and neglect and to significantly improve the response of our community when child abuse occurs in the months and years ahead,” Howeth read from the proclamation.


Efforts to bring attention to the topic of child abuse date back more than 40 years. President Richard Nixon signed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act into law in 1974, dedicating federal resources to prevention, identification and treatment programs. The act was then reauthorized in 2010.


Child Abuse Prevention Month itself traces its origins to 1982 when June 6 through June 12 was designated as Child Abuse Prevention Week. The following year, President Ronald Reagan expanded the week of recognition to encompass the entire month of April.


As part of the Denison proclamation and presentation, representatives with CASA handed out blue ribbons to those at the meeting.


The blue ribbons have been a part of efforts to raise awareness of the issue since 1989 when Virginia grandmother Bonnie Finney put a ribbon on her van’s antenna in memory of a grandson. The 3-year-old boy, who she affectionately referred to as “Bubba,” was killed by his mother’s abusive boyfriend.


“In April, pick up a ribbon and remember Bubba and the other 500 kids who could have become a Bubba,” Natalie Jamison, executive director of CASA of Grayson County, said.


Jamison told the Sherman council she had received notice prior to the meeting there had been four more children removed by authorities that day. She said there had been 35 children removed in Grayson County since January.


“It is here in your community,” Jamison said. “We ask that everybody recognize it is in your neighborhood — it is not Dallas, it is not Houston, it’s here.”


Child Protective Services Supervisor Robin Bethel told commissioners there were currently 168 children in foster care.


“That’s actually down from last year,” Bethel added to applause.


She then reminded those in the courtroom that Friday is Go Blue Day when people are encouraged to wear blue throughout the state of Texas to represent the bruised and battered children served by CPS and others. Bethel added April 28 is Blue Sunday when local churches are asked to say a special prayer for the abused children and those who work to serve them.


Bethel also talked about the Great Bowls of Fire, Chili Champions for Children fundraiser being put on by the Grayson County Child Welfare Board on April 14 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 903 Brewers. For more information about that event, please call Glenda Ritchie at 903-818-1524 or gritchie022000@yahoo.com.