Rockwall, TX – The community joined Lone Star CASA, The Children’s Advocacy Center for Rockwall County (CACRC), the Rainbow Room, Child Protective Services and Rockwall County elected officials on the lawn of the Historic Downtown Courthouse yesterday for a proclamation recognizing Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. The annual event – known as Pinwheels for Prevention – is put on each year to recognize the three aforementioned organizations which work tirelessly together to ensure that when a child suffers sexual abuse in Rockwall County, they are seen, heard and supported.
The ceremony took place outside the courthouse in the Pinwheel Garden comprised of over a thousand pinwheels, each representing a child served by the CACRC, CASA and Rainbow Room: 757 children by the CACRC, 144 children by Rainbow Room, and 104 children by CASA.
Rockwall County 382nd District Judge Brett Hall said the county is very fortunate to have those three organizations dedicated to supporting children who suffer sexual abuse, and that the courts have seen less CPS referrals in the past year. Judge Hall and 439th District Court Judge David Rakow appoint volunteer advocates for CASA who advocate for children in the foster care system in Kaufman and Rockwall counties.
“Over the last year or so the numbers seem to be going down, and that’s what you want,” Judge Hall said. “We’ve had fewer cases filed, fewer removals have taken place, and we’re looking at why that is. I’d like to believe that it’s because there’s less abuse, and that the system is working and doing what it’s supposed to do. But it could also be that we’re not getting as many referrals and not as many people are reporting it. It could have something to do with the pandemic which has affected everyone. But optimistically, at least for now, things are looking pretty good. We look forward to the day when we can meet up here and talk about something else, when we don’t have to talk about child abuse.”
Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney Kenda Culpepper, who spearheaded the effort to bring a Children’s Advocacy Center to the county, spoke to the amazing collaboration between the three organizations in helping children who have suffered abuse.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more child abuse cases,” Culpepper said. “But that’s not because there’s more child abuse or more people abusing children. It’s because of organizations like the CAC, CASA, and the Rainbow Room that are so busy making sure that people are aware of services, that kids maybe for the first time feel comfortable coming forward and using their voice to talk about what is happening to them. That breaks my heart that we see those numbers, but in Rockwall County, it inspires me that children are going to be listened to and that their voice will be heard.”
To conclude the event, Rockwall County Judge David Sweet read out the proclamation from Tuesday’s Commissioner’s Court meeting recognizing April 2022 as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month in Rockwall County.
Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.