LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In an effort to bring awareness to the child abuses cases in Angelina County, the Lufkin Community Partners and CPS gathered and prayed for those victims.
"I don't think people realize how frequently child abuse happens in our community," said Tammie Axelson, the Lufkin Community Partners President.
Child advocate organization members shed tears while thinking of the children who endure abuse. Jasmine Oliver was one of them in the past. After being in foster care for eleven years, she gave her testimony.
"I was nervous, but I know I wanted to do it because a lot of kids feel alone. I felt alone," said Jasmine Oliver, a former victim.
The president of Lufkin Community Partners said the number of child abuse cases have increased. There were 196 in 2008. In 2014, there were 304...nearly double.
"We see that drug abuse is on the rise, therefore our child abuse is on the rise," said Axelson.
Cases surface everyday, like Antywine Oliphant of Diboll accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old, and child endangerment for using a brick to smash a window that shattered over his own kids. James Hector was accused of hitting a four-year-old over the eye leaving a laceration.
"You have to have an agency that's educated and able to look for the signs of abuse," said Axelson.
Those in attendance to the prayer wore blue for child abuse awareness. Axelson said some have negative feelings toward CPS, but they are there to make sure children are safe.
"It's okay, CPS will take care of you. They're not going to hurt you. They're here for you," said Oliver.
As the crowd said Amen, they released balloons for those children who are abused everyday and for those like Jasmine still coping and striving to move on and put the memories behind her.
"I just want to be successful in life, I don't want to go down the path my mom went down," said Oliver.
She is a success story. Oliver is now attending Angelina Community College studying to become a nurse.
Over 500 teachers from four school districts supported Child Abuse Awareness Month today by wearing those blue t-shirts.