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CASA for Children is calling attention to the issue of child abuse this April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The organization is encouraging everyone to wear blue today and each Friday in April to raise awareness of the problem.

"I think knowledge is power. Prevention is power. The more we are educated on what goes on in the community, state and nation, the more people will pay attention to it," said Brandy Eldridge, CASA executive director.

"There's a stigma on child abuse, especially sexual abuse. People don't want to talk about it or admit that it happens. This month is bringing light to something that is awful. It's very dark. It's a terrible epidemic and we have to have people committed to ending it and we do that by increasing awareness of the issue," she said.

CASA and the Children's Advocacy Center help more than a thousand children each year either by helping officials investigate claims of child abuse or by providing kids in the foster care system a Court Appointed Special Advocate who speak to the courts on behalf of the child.

"The Children's Advocacy Center does 50 to 60 interviews a month on reports of alleged child abuse. Right now we have over 160 kids in foster care we're helping in Texas and Arkansas," Eldridge said.

CASA and the Children's Advocacy Center provide education to local organizations for free.

"Anyone that wants to learn more about prevention, the signs of child abuse and keeping kids safe and call us and we'll come speak. Or anyone who wants to know how to talk to their child about about child abuse we can tell them how," she said.

Besides wearing blue, CASA has several activities and fundraisers planned in April including:

  •  The Tiny FUNhouse- Giant Cause Party takes place at 6 p.m. April 11 at Twisted Fork. The playhouse will be on display at the party. Raffle tickets for the house will be $20 and purchasing one gains a person entrance into the party.
  •  The Songwriters on the Edge of Texas concerts beginning at 5:30 p.m. April 14 at Northridge Country Club. Performers include Junior Brown, Trey Johnson and Jed Harrelson. Tickets are $75 per person and include dinner and entertainment. For tickets call 903-792-1030 or email [email protected]

"This is our biggest fundraiser but it's important to acknowledge we have a community who gets behind us. I'm so grateful we have so many people that know who we are and understand the work we do is important," Eldridge said.

  •  The 14th Annual Songwriters Golf Tournament takes place April 15 at Northridge Country Club. There are 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. tee times available. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. Four-person scramble teams are $700 or $175 for an individual entry. The golf tournament entry fee includes a Songwriters concert ticket. For golf tournament registration contact Davis at 903-792-1030.

In addition to volunteering for CASA or providing financial support by attending one of the events, the community can also help by staying aware. Anyone who suspects child abuse is encouraged to call their state's hotline and report it.

"All it takes is suspicion. If you suspect there's child abuse call," Eldridge said.

In Texas report suspected abuse to or call 1-800-252-5400. In Arkansas call 1-800-482-5964.

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