San Antonio child abuse victims remembered

Vigil hopes to raise awareness


SAN ANTONIO - The windy evening weather extinguished a candle or two, but did little to douse the fires in everyones' heart during Tuesday night's vigil to remember the 19 San Antonio children who lost their lives due to child abuse in 2012.

The vigil, held at The Children's Shelter at 2939 West Woodlawn, was not only to remember those who died but to renew the call for increased funding for prevention programs.

"This is a way of remembering and a way of promoting advocacy and particularly right now because our legislature is in session," said Kathy Fletcher, CEO of Voices for Children of San Antonio.

"We don't want the community to forget that child abuse is a disease in the community," added Annette Rodriguez, president of The Children's Shelter. "The numbers aren't going down."

One startling fact revealed during the night's small speaking portion is that 11 of the 19 deaths were the result of neglect, not abuse.

"We actually had four children who were wiped out in one single drunk driving accident," said Child Protective Services spokesperson Mary Walker. "We had five children who were victims of co-sleeping or lack of safe sleeping incidents."

"We need to offer those parents support and we can do that in the form of prevention services so if you cut prevention services we might be hurting children," added Rodriguez.

According to Fletcher, child abuse prevention funding was cut by 42 percent during the 2011 legislative session. Lost money that could mean lost lives.

"I think starting early is a really huge thing and providing a multitude of services," said Fletcher.

"We want to keep the community abreast of what's going on and we want them to be vigilant and we want them to look at every child and be able to report child abuse if they suspect child abuse," added Rodriguez.

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