Dozens of community members came together at the Wood County Child Abuse Prevention and Victim Rights Candlelight Vigil on April 16 at Gov. Jim Hogg City Park in Quitman.
Guest speaker Savanna Christian, a first-grade teacher, discussed her experience of adopting children and how to be mindful of child abuse.
She and her husband, Eric, have one biological son and three adopted children. She noted how helpful the organization Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Kids can be in ensuring that children have safe and comforting homes.
Christian shared a video on how children can recognize abuse and report it to an adult if something happens to them. She added that as a teacher she sees signs of abuse often.
“Ninety percent of child abuse is done by somebody that knows the child,” she said. “As an adult, we need to know how to report child abuse. It’s our job as a community to report.”
Christian also noted that 75 percent of abuse comes in the form of neglect, and abuse and neglect claim the lives of four children each day.
The Christians have a blog detailing their foster and adoption experiences called “Loving on Borrowed Time” at lovingonborrowedtime.com.
Lepha Luttrall, song director of First United Methodist Church in Quitman, sang “Go Light the World” during the vigil’s candle lighting and bubble release.
Wood County Judge Lucy Hebron proclaimed April as child abuse prevention month in Wood County. Winnsboro Mayor Randy Parrish read a proclamation for child abuse awareness and Quitman Mayor David Dobbs read a proclamation on sexual assault awareness.
Sam Scroggins, president of the Wood County Child Welfare Board, served as the master of ceremonies. He was proud to have county and city leaders acknowledge the need for child abuse prevention.
“We need more people to get involved in foster care. We really need more children to be taken care of in Wood County,” Scroggins said.
He gave recognition to the event’s supporting agencies: Wood County Child Welfare & Protection Board, Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center, East Texas Crisis Center – Wood County, Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Kids of East Texas, Texas Department of Family & Protective Services, Wood County Juvenile Probation, Wood County Sheriff’s Department, Wood County DA Victim Services and Wood County police departments.
Scroggins also commended the Wood County Rainbow Room on its work to give area foster children a sense of self-worth and provide clothes, toys and essentials.
The Mineola Elementary and High School choir performed songs for the crowd. Boy Scouts Troop 36 of Quitman performed the presentation of colors.
Pastor Cody Mize of Cartwright Baptist Church gave the welcome and invocation and Pastor Keefe Cropper of First United Methodist Church Quitman gave the closing prayer. Quitman Pilot Club members and Quitman Rotarians served hot dogs and hamburgers prior to the program. Quitman Brookshire’s, Speakeasy Coffeehouse, Mineola Community Bank, Wood County National Bank, City National Bank and Scott’s Pharmacy also provided food.
Scroggins ended the program by encouraging people to be aware of signs of child abuse. “If you see something that doesn’t look right, please report it,” he said.