Its the Invasion of the Cardboard Kids!

Next to Fiesta medals, the biggest 'status symbol' in San Antonio in April will be a 'cardboard kid,' News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The non-profit 'ChildSafe' says it will place some 72,000 small cardboard cutouts of children all over the county over the coming months.  The group's Randy McGibrey says it is a way to point out how common child abuse and child neglect are in this county.

"They will be everywhere," McGibrey says.  "Anyplace where they can put them and any business that can take them, we will put them out there," he said.

McGibrey says ChildSafe is encouraging companies, families, individuals, and groups like Rotary Clubs and fraternal organizations to make up the cardboard kids, and make a donation to ChildSafe as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.

He says a major participant in the effort is Santikos Theaters, so expect to see plenty of cardboard kids when you go to the movies.

"You will probably see them at school districts, you'll see them at small businesses, bus stops, at the Courthouse downtown.

"McGibrey says the need for child abuse intervention, support, and counseling is growing as an awareness and a willingness to report child abuse grows.  He says ChildSafe has experienced a 60% jump in the number of counseling sessions in the last year, but that's good news, because that means more children are being removed from abusive settings are being given the opportunity to heal their lives.

ChildSafe is a group that works with courts and with Child Protective Services to help counsel children who have made an outcry of abuse or neglect.

"For 25 years, we have provided specialized services to babies, children, and teenager who have been sexually or physically abused or neglected," He said.  "We provide forensic interviews, counseling, and advocacy services to the most vulnerable in our society."

How common is child abuse?  In the time it takes to read this news story, another child will have been physically or sexually abused in Bexar County.

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