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Stories Added July 2010
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Hidden In Plain Sight - Abuse In Tyler County

Tyler County Booster

by Jacki Kerr/Booster

When you look at the statistics it becomes clear that the form of abuse most hidden in Tyler County is child abuse. And it’s the one we don’t want to talk about or even consider possible in this friendly rural county. Sadly, though, the numbers paint a tragic picture of kids suffering at the hands of others...hidden in plain sight. One in four girls and one in eight boys will be abused before the age of 18, according to the Rape and Suicide Crisis of Southeast Texas, Inc, and only 20 percent of those victims will report their abuse. This statistic staggered me, so I did some research. The Tyler County child population for 2009 was 4,714, if you half that number for each gender in Tyler County and use the statistic previously stated then 589 girls and 295 boys would have been abused in Tyler County and only 177 would have been reported. I then read the 2009 Confirmed Child Protective Services Victims and Investigations report for Tyler County, and the CPS had a total of 176 completed investigations, 31 were confirmed, and 41 were confirmed victims of child abuse or neglect. The correlation of this statistic is spot-on with the abuse of children and how many of them will be abused before the age of 18. Abuse with children has many forms in today’s society. There may be physical abuse, sexual abuse, and even mental abuse. All of these can and will take a toll on the victim of the abuse sometime in their life. Physical abuse not only affects the body of the child, but also the mind. There is a difference in firm discipline and abuse on a child. Here is one example. Tyler County received a case on a stepfather who was upset and threw his four year old stepson across the room. The boy landed on the coffee table and injured his kidney. The boy was hospitalized for two weeks to recover from the injuries made to his body. The mother was not at home at the time. Today, fortunately, the child is okay and the stepfather was served with 10 years probation. Not all abuse is physical, some may include sexual abuse. Sexual abuse of a child can and does happen all around Tyler County. Child abuse is a sexual activity between an adult, defined as someone 17 or older, and a child or even by another child. Sexual abuse of a child under the age of 13 is considered aggravated sexual assault and 14 and older is called sexual assault. The Texas Human Resource Code Chapter §21.02 is a section on continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children. In subsection (h) it states an offense under this section is a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life, or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 25 years. Don’t think it happens? Tyler County had a report of a 12 year old female who was sexually assaulted by her stepfather and step uncle on numerous occasion and video taped the assaults, since she was nine years old. The mother had believed the husband was cheating on her and found the video DETCOG July Board Meeting tape, she asked her friend to watch it and that is when they found out the daughter was a victim of terrible violence against her and immediately reported the violence. Both men were charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault and both were convicted of four life sentences, two from Tyler County and two from Polk County for each of the men. Signs that a child is being abused varies from child to child but may include, an unusual interest of things of a sexual nature, drawing pictures with a sexual content, a detailed understanding of sexual behavior not appropriate for their age, unusual aggressiveness, secretiveness, sudden changes in eating habits, and or refusal to go to school. If you suspect that a child is being abused is any way it is the law and you must report it, you could be held accountable. If you work with children you are supposed to report any suspicion of abuse or neglect of a child. If you our someone you know has been abused or neglected tell someone you trust, a parent, teacher, preacher, a trusted friend and together you can report the violence that has happened to the victim. The abuse is not your fault. If the situation is life threatening then call local law enforcement immediately (911) or the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office (409) 283-2172. You can also call Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (409) 283- 3765, or the Rape and Suicide Crisis Center of Southeast Texas, Inc. (409) 832-6530. Remember abuse is not your fault, and there are people who are here to protect you and your family. Keep an eye out for your family and make sure you know what is going on before it is too late and your child has been abused.

Polk County Publishing Company