Help raise $1M to fight Child Abuse - Fmr. Sheriff Pamerleau on ChildSafe Campaign
"We've got to stop this and make sure children understand there's no one who has a right to abuse them."
That's former Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau talking about the problem of child abuse here.
Pamerleau was just one of a number of community leaders at the kickoff of a campaign to raise $1 million to help ChildSafe during the month of April.
ChildSafe is an organization that works to prevent child abuse and neglect in many different ways - as well as helping law enforcement and victims of abuse and their families.
Sadly, there are thousands of victims just in Bexar County every year.
"It was over four thousand last year," said Kim Abernethy, the President and CEO of ChildSafe.
"But we need to remember that's confirmed cases. Only one in ten children will ever tell. And last year we served over 4,600 children and their family members."
Abernethy says the month-long push to raise $ 1 million dollars is very important.
"Because with it we can help an additional 2,000 children. But also, April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. And so it's all about creating awareness about the problem that we have in San Antonio and the number of children that need to be served. Every year we're serving more and more kids."
Former Sheriff Pamerleau has helped ChildSafe for the past four years and is now working on their capital campaign as well.
She knows all too well some of the longer-term effects of child abuse.
"When we see people who end up in jail, there are a lot of reasons that they do that. But when you look at what are some common factors, many of those are that they've been abused as children."
April is also a great time to donate to ChildSafe because there are matching grants that will effectively double your gift. Even if you just make a pledge to donate and spread the gift over the year, your donation will still be doubled.
"Every gift counts. Every gift makes a difference. It's a community problem and we need everybody to get engaged."
During April you may also see ChildSafe's 'Cardboard Kids' campaign, which uses child-sized cardboard cut-outs to remind us of the problem of abuse and neglect.
"This year we've already distributed 76,000 cardboard kids so that makes an impact," said Abernethy.
"It's a way to make it easier to talk about. As each one of those cardboard kids represent a child that's been hurt at the hands of adults."
"So what this is doing is we're hoping it's creating enough awareness that children feel comfortable and safe reporting [abuse] and more adults are reporting it too. And I think we can see that because our cases are going up."
At the kickoff of the campaign at the Santikos Embassy Theatres, I also asked former Sheriff Pamerleau what else she's doing - since she left office at the end of last year.
"Oh, I've been enjoying the respite before my next adventure. But you know, when you've been in public life and involved in important issues... it doesn't stop. I just have a little bit more time that I get to sleep late," she laughs. "And relax."