Leaders from all levels unite to fight child abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

SAN ANTONIO – State, county and city leaders gathered Friday on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse on what was the first day of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Their goal is to unify efforts to combat the problem at all levels and encourage the public to join them.

In 2015, 66,721 Texas children experienced abuse or neglect, with 7,500 of those cases taking place in San Antonio.

In what was one of the more horrific cases, 4-year-old Giovanni Ochoa died of starvation at the hands of his grandparents.

Officials said 90 percent of child victims trust their abusers.

"According to statistics released by the Texas Family and Protective Services, Bexar County in 2014 was No. 2 in Texas in child abuse cases. Now, these are statistics that are unacceptable. They should be unacceptable to you, and they are unacceptable to us," Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood said.

There are 22 prosecutors in Bexar County dedicated to crimes against children and human trafficking.

"In 2014, there (were) only 47 felony child abuse cases in Bexar County and 57 percent conviction rate. Just last year, in only one year, we had 87 child abuse trials with a 70 percent conviction rate," LaHood said.

The plan of the leaders who gathered Friday is two-fold and includes prevention programs through the Bexar County Children's Court.

"I am making now a plea to the community, people who truly care about children and families that we must do more. We must stay committed. we need an active voice for these children," District Judge Peter Sakai said.

Click here for more information on Child Abuse Prevention Month.