Nacogdoches child welfare officials: Child abuse is on the rise in ETX

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Earlier this week, a Nacogdoches grand jury indicted a 37-year-old Shari Kamile Brandon for attempted capital murder for allegedly trying to drown her 6-year-old daughter after an auto accident on June 8.

The incident was definitely on the minds of child advocates attending today's dedication at the Nacogdoches County Master Gardener's Demonstration Garden.

A new statue is creating awareness about the growing occurrence of child abuse and neglect in this area. The statue of a happy child symbolizes a desire the Nacogdoches County Child Welfare Board has for all children.

"Depicting the innocence of children and the statement, ' because it should never hurt to be a child is what we all believe in," said Lisa King, the Child Welfare Board's president."

Unfortunately, way too many East Texans exhibit much crueler actions.

"We've seen a rise in the number of children that are in foster care," said Tonya Harry, the director of investigations for Region V Child Protective Services. "Where we had roughly maybe 35 children in foster care and we have over 100 children in foster care in this area now."

Poverty and a lack of education are factors. So is substance abuse.

"Substance abuse is one of the number one problems that we face here as far as crime goes," Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges. "It affects everybody. It affects our children."

It's gotten to the point children must develop survival skills. Brandon's six year old daughter told authorities she played dead to prevent from being drowned by her mother. This amazes those who hear the story, except for Judy Bowman, the regional director for child protective services.

"That is very common," Bowman said. "Keep in mind that this child probably was abused from very early on and so these are things that she had learned to do."

Foster parent Wendi Wallace attempts to undo the negatives of child abuse.

'To provide safety for them so they know that there's a place they can be safe and they can be innocent," Wendy Wallace, a foster parent said.

The hope is that a forever home of love and nurturing comes along.

"We're blessed to adopt two little girls and most recently we're blessed to have Lane," said Jessica Henderson, an adoptive parent.

And his adoption will soon be final because it should never hurt to be a child.

The child's statue was given a special spot by the Master Gardeners. It can be viewed at the garden on the corner of East Main and University drive in Nacogdoches.

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