Breckenridge Texan

Local volunteers work to help prevent child abuse

Local volunteers work to help prevent child abuse
April 03
10:35 2019

A group of local volunteers gathered at the Stephens County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon to install the annual display in honor of the victims of child abuse and neglect. Members of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board decorated the courthouse lawn and trees with brightly colored ribbons and other items for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Sharon Wimberley, right, and Linda Burdic put blue ribbons on trees at the courthouse in honor of local children in foster care. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Sharon Wimberley, chair of the child welfare board, said there are 27 Stephens County children in foster care, and the trees are decorated for them. Along with blue ribbons, they hung empty pairs of shoes to represent those children who have been removed from their homes.

According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, in 2018 Texas had 211 confirmed child abuse and neglect-related fatalities. The local volunteers set up a temporary “memorial park” on the courthouse lawn in memory of those children, organizing rows of small white, glittery angels and blue pinwheels.

The display also includes glittery stars hanging from the trees and signs placed around the lawn, reminding everyone that it’s Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Members of the local Child Welfare Board include Wimberley; Ruth Taylor, co-chair; Linda Lippe, treasurer; Jan Davis, secretary; and members Alva Carey, Stephanee Russell, Linda Burdic and Sandy Broyles.

On March 25, Stephens County Judge Michael Roach and the County Commissioners proclaimed April 2019 to be be Child Abuse Prevention Month in Stephens County. The proclamation specifically urges “all citizens to work together to help reduce child abuse and neglect significantly in years to come.”

Linda Lippe, from left, Alva Carey and Linda Burdic prepare signs to place around the courthouse lawn, encouraging child abuse prevention. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The main purpose of the month and the decorations at the courthouse is to make the community more aware of the child abuse that occurs locally, statewide and nationwide and to encourage everyone to help parents raise their children in a safe and nurturing environment.

The Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards explains that child abuse is any mistreatment of a child that results in harm or injury. According to the TCCWB website, there are four basic types of child abuse, though children often experience more than one kind of abuse. Those types of abuse include:

  • Physical Abuse — Physical abuse includes actions such as beating, burning, or punching a child.
  • Emotional Abuse — Emotional abuse may involve criticizing, insulting, rejecting, or withholding love from a child.
  • Sexual Abuse — Sexual abuse includes rape, touching or fondling, or involving a child in pornography.
  • Neglect — Neglect includes failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, medical, or emotional needs. Leaving a young child home alone or failing to provide needed medical care may also be considered neglect.

Jan Davis helps set up the memorial of angels and pinwheels in honor of Texas children who died from abuse or neglect in 2018. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you can report the suspected abuse to the local law enforcement, calling 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency situation. Or, you can call a toll-free, statewide hotline,1-800-252-5400. Additionally, you can report it online at www.txabusehotline.org .

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that parents who need help and think they are in danger of abusing or neglecting their children can call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD or 1-800-422-4453. According to the Childhelp website, the hotline is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the U.S. and Canada, the hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven  days a week with professional crisis counselors who — through interpreters — provide assistance in more than 170 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.

Friday, April 5, is Texas Go Blue Day, and all Texan are encouraged to wear blue to spread awareness of child abuse and neglect. April 28 will be Blue Sunday, a national day of prayer when churches recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month – praying for the end of child abuse and neglect, praying for the victims, and praying for those who rescue them, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

For more photos of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board decorating the courthouse lawn, click here to see the Breckenridge Texan’s Photo Gallery.

Sharon Wimberley, chair of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board, addresses the Commissioners Court on March 25, requesting that they proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. The volunteers decorated the courthouse lawn on Tuesday to bring awareness to the abuse and neglect of Texas children. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Jerry Taylor, from left, Stephanee Russell and Ruth Taylor arrange the angels and pinwheels for the temporary “memorial park” on the Stephens County Courthouse lawn in memory of the Texas children who died from abuse or neglect in 2018. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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