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Child Abuse Numbers High in the Panhandle

Child abuse is happening on the High Plains, and local experts want to stop it.

Child abuse is happening on the High Plains, and local experts want to stop it. More than 500 law enforcement officials, case workers and educators spent  Thursday learning the latest information about preventing and understanding  child abuse.

It was part of Amarillo College's Child Abuse Prevention Conference, to kick off the National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month in April. 

"People are learning today, every case should be investigated,"  Don Nicholson, one of the event coordinators with the Department of State Health Services said.

Nicholson says, the number of cases in the Panhandle is high. There were 1,573 confirmed cases of child abuse in our area in 2013. That means 13 out of every 1,000 kids in the Panhandle will be a victim. That's higher than the state average of 9 in 1,000 children.

"We had fifteeen counties here in the Texas Panhandle that were above the state numbers. So it is a problem here," Nicholson said. 

Guest speaker Frank Kros with The Children's Guild says people feel sympathy toward victims of abuse, but often don't see the greater implications.

"What we've come across in the last decade is this science about the brain. Our understanding about how brains work. And particularly with children, the effect of what we call distress or traumatic stress on the brain from significant child abuse experiences, from poverty and other types of traumatizing experiences," Kros said.

Those  traumatic experiences are exactly what attendees want to understand, in order to help victims of abuse and prevent it all together.

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