The trial of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky has recently dominated the news.
For days and days, sordid new details emerged about his alleged abuse of children entrusted to his care. Because he was considered an upstanding citizen, no one could imagine that he might be taking advantage of vulnerable boys entrusted to his care.
And because of his standing, the children were afraid to cry out because they feared they would not be believed.
Unlike the Sandusky case, there is little outcry about the thousands of children abused every year in Texas – one every eight minutes according to figures from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Most of them are abused by people known to the children. Every 38 hours in 2011, a child died from abuse and neglect in Texas. You do the math … there were 231recorded child deaths from abuse last year.
But the outrage over these statistics is remarkably absent.
In our community, the Children’s Advocacy Center (Gingerbread House) recently reported they expect to serve a record number of 230 child victims this year.
Our CASA program has served 77 children so far. While the Gingerbread House may serve every child victim in our County, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) only serves child victims who must be removed by Child Protective Services and placed in foster care.
CASA is appointed by the Judge when a child is removed by CPS.
If the Sandusky case makes you angry, turn that anger into good for our children in our community. Consider becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate – a CASA volunteer.
CASA volunteers are ordinary people appointed by judges to speak up for the best interest of children, who through no fault of their own, end up in foster care.
Last year, there were 46,063 children in Texas’ custody and more than half did not have a CASA volunteer to speak up for them in court and in the child welfare system.
These children went through the terrifying process of being removed from their homes and losing everything they knew.
CASA volunteers work to move children through the foster care system and into safe permanent homes as quickly as possible.
For more information, visit www.casaofelliscounty.org or www.becomeaCASA.org or call the CASA office at 972-937-1455.
Rhodie Rawls serves as the Executive Director of Ellis County CASA.