East Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, is stepping up efforts to help child victims in honor of April's National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness month.
The organization specializes in helping abused or neglected children find a stable home.
"We're here for the long haul and we are going to make sure that they get to that safe, permanent, happy home," CASA spokesperson Brooke Davis said.
In the three counties that CASA serves, there are hundreds of reported cases of child abuse.
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, there were 532 reported victims in Gregg County, 214 in Rusk County and 112 in Upshur County in 2016 alone.
On a state level, there were 58,644 confirmed victims of child abuse or neglect last year and at least 60 percent of those children were at least six years old or younger.
Experts like psychologist Dr. Wilson Renfroe said it can leave a lasting mark on kids.
"Well it usually always arrests their development, in the sense that they're being introduced to something that's not normal," Renfroe said.
He also noted that oftentimes they act out as a form of expression.
"They will show it in their anger or their sadness or their trauma through their behavior. What may appear to be a child who has a lot of behavioral problems, to the casual observer, maybe a child who has been severely traumatized."
Renfroe said the best method for a child is to find someone they can trust, which is where CASA steps in.
"CASA is here to be that constant in their life, to be the voice for those kids," Davis said.
In honor of the victims of child abuse and the people who rescue them, CASA will be hosting a day of prayer on April 30th. More information about the the organization and event can be found on their website.
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