In light of the tragic allegations of child abuse in Denton, there is an effort to take a stand against child abuse.
April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.
Volunteers from around North Texas will read the names and ages of 27,484 children who were victims of child abuse in Dallas County last year.
"The reality is our children are not safe in their homes," said Irish Burch, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center President and CEO. "So we owe it to them to lend our voice to this issue. And that's what we're doing in our Save Jane campaign."
Because these children are minors and their identities must be protected, “Jane” and “John” will be used in place of their names.
"We want you to really understand the magnitude of the issue we're facing in Dallas County right now," Burch said. "When you hear Jane Doe, 3-years-old, that's a female that could be facing sexual abuse allegations. When you hear John Doe, 12-years-old, that's someone with allegations of severe physical abuse. So it's not just a name representing the situation, it really is understanding these are true issues."
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It would take more than 24 hours to read through the thousands of names, so the effort is being divided among various locations around Dallas County. Each location will read approximately 3,436 names over the course of four hours.
“When you let it soak in that it takes more than 24 straight hours to call out the names of each child victim, it’s heart-wrenching," said Burch.
Save Jane will take place on Friday at the following locations:
- Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, 5351 Samuell Blvd, Dallas
- Garland Police Department, 1891 Forest Ln, Garland
- NorthPark Center, 8687 N Central Expy, Dallas
- Grand Prairie Public Safety Building, 1525 Arkansas Lane, Grand Prairie
- Irving Family Advocacy Center, 600 W. Pioneer, Irving
- Dallas Love Field Airport, 8008 Herb Kelleher Way, Dallas
- Park South YMCA, 2500 Romine Ave, Dallas
- South Dallas County Government Center, 8301 S Polk Street, Dallas
Volunteers are especially needed at Dallas Love Field Airport and Park South YMCA in Dallas, both high-traffic areas to really drive the message home.
DCAC first premiered the Save Jane campaign in 2019 but the event had to be canceled the past two years due to the pandemic. This Friday will be the first time volunteers will be coming together again.
"We are super excited to be back on this year," said Burch. "Our sponsor for this event is Credit Union of Texas. We are excited that they have decided to take on this challenge for us."
DCAC is the only agency of its kind fighting child abuse in the area. Their team works directly with the justice system to provide healing and trauma services for abused children.
"This has to stop. We are a force dedicated to eradicating child abuse in our city and providing healing services to those who are the unfortunate sufferers of this terrible crime," Burch said.
She added that recent cases like the death of the 7-year old in Denton only drive home the fact that more needs to be done.
"You see these cases in the media and there are so many more that you don't see," said Burch. "It is a travesty that he passes away on the first day of Child Abuse Awareness Month but this is also a chance for us to all charge to not let his death be in vain. We all should do our part. We all play a role and you can do something today. You can do something by volunteering, you can do something by donating, you can do something by raising your voice. You can do something by educating yourself. We can all do something to ensure that we can stop this from happening to any more children."
DCAC provides free resources on its website for anyone who wants to learn more about what they can do and how they can recognize signs of abuse.
"If you see something you have to say something. A lot of people say, 'I don't want to make a false report.' But at the end of the day, you don't need to know that this happened for sure. The definition is if you suspect child abuse or neglect and you are required to report it. You call the child abuse hotline or you call 911," said Burch.
Inspired by the Awareness Campaign, the Save Jane Society was founded to unite North Texans of all ages and backgrounds in the fight against child abuse. Through service events, networking, educational opportunities, and more, Save Jane Society members advocate for DCAC and the end of child abuse in North Texas and beyond.
To join the society or volunteer for this event and read names, click here.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which pairs volunteers with children entering the foster care system, is also hosting a number of events throughout the month of April.