A local organization is working to stop and prevent child abuse, before it’s too late

KTSM
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POSTED: Friday, April 4, 2014 - 3:03pm

UPDATED: Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 3:49pm

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Four thousand cases of child abuse are reported every year in El Paso, according to the Child Crisis Center of El Paso.

The center said they estimate unreported cases to double that number.
Joanna Villezcas was one of those 4000 victims. She died in 2011. Like 80 percent of incidents, her abuser was a parent.

“One must ask how many cases are happening behind closed doors that are not being reported?” said Alfonso Velarde, executive director of the Child Crisis Center of El Paso.

Velarde said the most common trigger for abuse is stress, which is why the center works to help parents manage it.

"What we here at the child crisis center try to do is help parents number one learn how to cope with stress. Learn how to be able to handle those overwhelming situations so that they don't turn on their children and then we want to teach parents, educate parents on how to be good, positive parents,” Velarde said.

The Fatherhood Effect Program was created with a $1.2 million grant. The program stresses the importance of a relationship between a child and their father. They urge fathers to make a positive presence in the lives of their children. The center said this can be as simple as eating dinner together, tucking them in at night or looking over their homework.

"We talk about stuff such as relationship skills, fathering skills, parenting skills, self-awareness and taking care of themselves which is very important which is very important in a father’s life in how he raises his family.

This 12 week program started on Feb. 28 and just finished up their first group of participants.

Abuse can take the form of neglect, physical and sexual. Bruises, cuts and burns could be signs of abuse, but the center said so can drastic changes in a child’s behavior.

Any suspicious activity can be reported to the Texas abuse hotline 1-800-252-5400 or the local hotline at 915-562-4673.

For more information on the Child Crisis Center of El Paso and the Fatherhood Effect Program, visit their website at www.childcrisishelp.org.

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