464 cases of child abuse reported last year in Grayson County alone
SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) - Tuesday, Grayson County officials proclaimed April as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month.
Officials placed blue flags and ribbons along the county court house lawn, to represent the hundreds of child abuse and neglect victims confirmed in Grayson County.
In 2020, there were over one hundred cases of abuse involving children in Sherman, and 464 total within the county -and that’s just cases that were reported. Officials believe there are many, many more.
“Prior to taking this job, I didn’t fully understand some of the child abuse and neglect that happens here in the county” said Child Protective Services Representative Lindsay Willeford. “I grew up here in Grayson County and a lot of the stuff that goes on through the courts, many people in the community do not understand.”
Willeford works in the District Attorneys office. She says child abuse is real and it’s in Grayson County.
“It is absolutely happening here- it’s happening in all of our cities here in Grayson County, all of our schools, and the community just needs to be aware of what’s happening to our kiddos” Willeford said.
Child abuse can look different for all cases.
“Child endangerment, children being abandoned or endangered. Then there’s injury to a child, and then child sex abuse” said District Attorney Brett Smith. “Unfortunately we see way too much child sexual abuse. In fact, we’re trying a continuous sexual abuse of a child case in the 59th district court, upstairs” Smith said.
“Child abuses crosses all social economic standards, all ethnic divides, it crosses all gender divides, it doesn’t matter if you’re rural, if you’re in the city, it happens everywhere” said Abigail Hill, development and outreach coordinator for the Sherman Child Advocacy Center.
Hill says abusers are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
“We hear all the time, ‘that person would never hurt a child,’ or ‘I know them, they would never do that,’ but the reality is, more than 90% of the time the people who are abusing kids, are the people we know and trust,” Hill said. “We don’t give strangers access to our kids, if we don’t trust someone we’re not leaving our children with them. So, if your child says something, believe them.”
Hill says the number one sign of abuse to look for in a child, is a sudden change in behavior: whether that be a child becoming shy and closed off, or more talkative and energetic.
For more signs and knowledge of abuse, click here.
To make a report, click here or you can call 1-800-252-5400.
Copyright 2021 KXII. All rights reserved.