Breckenridge Texan

Stephens County Child Welfare Board members take a stand against child abuse, neglect

Stephens County Child Welfare Board members take a stand against child abuse, neglect
April 04
13:25 2023

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Although it may not be a topic that most people discuss on a regular basis, child abuse happens, even in Stephens County, Texas, and the Stephens County Child Welfare Board wants to make sure the local community is aware of the dire situation many children are in.

The shoes tied to a tree in front of the Stephens County Courthouse represent the 18 Stephens County children who are in foster care. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The eight women who make up the CWB gathered at the Stephens County Courthouse on Monday morning to decorate the lawn for Child Abuse Awareness Month. Sharon Wimberley, Carla Barnes, Linda Burdic, Alva Carey, Jan Davis, Linda Lippe, Stephanie Russell and Ruth Taylor placed white crosses and blue pinwheels in front of the courthouse in honor of the 157 Texas children who died from abuse and/or neglect in 2021-2022.

Additionally, the children’s shoes that are tied to one of the trees represent the 18 local kids who are in foster care. The display also includes tiny red birds that offer a bright spot of color, and, according to old folklore, when a cardinal or red bird appears, it is an angel visiting. Bells and other decorations honor the children who have died, and the blue ribbons are the symbol used by organizations trying to prevent abuse.

According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, physical abuse is physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child. The physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) can result from punching, beating, shaking, kicking, biting, throwing, stabbing, hitting, burning, choking, or otherwise harming a child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caretaker intended to hurt the child.

Adults should suspect abuse when they see:

  • Frequent injuries such as bruises, cuts, black eyes, or burns without adequate explanations
  • Frequent complaints of pain without obvious injury
  • Burns or bruises in unusual patterns that may indicate the use of an instrument or human bite; cigarette burns on any part of the body
  • Lack of reaction to pain
  • Extreme fear of going home or seeing parents
  • Injuries that appear after a child has not been seen for several days
  • Unreasonable clothing that may hide injuries to arms or legs

Neglect is failure to provide for a child’s basic needs necessary to sustain the life or health of the child, excluding failure caused primarily by financial inability unless relief services have been offered and refused.

Adults should suspect neglect when they see:

    • Obvious malnourishment
    • Consistent concern for lack of personal hygiene that poses a health risk
    • Stealing or begging for food
    • Child unattended for long periods of time
    • Unaddressed need for dental care or other medical attention

To report child abuse of any type, you can call the toll-free number 1-800-252-5400, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or go to the secure website Texas Abuse Hotline and get a response within 24 hours.

Members of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board work with Stephens County employees James Barerra and Donald Spray to put up decorations in front of the courthouse for Child Abuse Awareness Month. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Child Welfare Board member Linda Burdic assists James Barerra in placing strings of bells around a tree on the courthouse lawn. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Members of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board place white crosses and blue pinwheels on the Stephens County Courthouse lawn Monday morning to raise awareness about child abuse. Putting up the display for Child Abuse Awareness Month are, from left, Linda Lippe, Sharon Wimberley, Ruth Taylor, Jan Davis, Stephanie Russell, Carla Barnes, Alva Carey and Linda Burdic. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)



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