The Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County, a nonprofit that fights the sexual abuse of children, hosted its third annual Champions for Children Breakfast on Wednesday at the University of North Texas Gateway Center.
This event, according to Children’s Advocacy Center CEO Kristen Howell, was more than just a fundraiser with a goal of $100,000. She said it was a chance to raise awareness for the center’s cause and its effect on Denton County.
“We invite every single person to the table to be a part of this and to let kids know that this community has their back,” Howell said after the event.
The Children’s Advocacy Center provides children with the opportunity for forensic interviews, which can help law enforcement officials learn about the facts of their case, and therapy. The center also provides educational training to teach both adults and children around the county how to identify and report abuse.
During her speech, Howell said that at a conservative estimate, 1 in 10 children will experience sexual abuse before they turn 18. And of that group, only 1 in 10 will report it. She said that this means there are about 18,000 kids in Denton County who have not spoken out about their experiences.
She also said that most perpetrators are adults who the child trusts. This was the case for the Rev. Doug Meyer of Trietsch Memorial United Methodist Church in Flower Mound, who talked of his abuse as a 10-year-old before giving the invocation.
It was also the case for Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mulcahy, who served as keynote speaker at the breakfast. He shared the story of his experience with childhood sexual abuse, at 9 years old, at the hands of his soccer coach. He said his story is very common and he did not have a place like CAC to go to.
“What is so remarkable about my story is how utterly unremarkable it is,” Mulcahy said. “You have created a different story for the kids of this county.”
The audience responded with a standing ovation. Howell returned to the podium to thank the audience for their time and commitment.
“To chip away at that 18,000, it’s going to take all of us at the table,” Howell said to the crowd.