LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Young mothers are reportedly leaving their children in the care of their boyfriends and Child Protective Service officials said they've seen a rise in the number of abuse cases as a result.
Child advocates said educating young parents is the key to eliminating these potentially abusive situations.
CPS investigators said many young parents aren't prepared to meet the challenges that come with being parenting, and often times, young mothers are leaving the babysitting up to their boyfriends.
"It's unfortunate, but it does happen," said Tony Jasso, a special investigator for the Department of Family and Protective Services. "We've seen cases that we've investigated that mothers of children just simply do not understand the dynamics between caring for a child and often leave the child, their own children in the care of their boyfriends and the boyfriends sometimes don't have the patience or education to try and take care of these children and often things happen."
Investigators say they see a lot of these abusive situations with teen and young partnerships.
Some recent local examples include 25-year-old Joshua Godsey of Nacogdoches was charged with injury to a child in July 2012 for causing bruising to his girlfriends 2-year-old son's bottom.
Most recently, Elisiah Phipps was indicted for injury to a child after a 3-year-old girl was found severely beaten to the point there was old and new abrasions all over the child's body. The girl's mother was also indicted because police say she let the abuse happen.
Both CPS and child advocacy agencies like Harold's House say that education is essential to ensuring a safe environment for inexperienced parents.
"Parenting is just challenging for everyone," said Ashley Cook, the community education director for Harold's House. "It's more challenging if you don't have very good parenting skills and so we always recommend that you reach out for those resources in your community like our parenting classes."
Child advocates say that communication in a relationship is imperative, especially when it comes to discipline.
"When you're a young person entering a relationship, if you're already a parent there needs to be an understanding, and we recommend that you talk with them about what their interests are in parenting in the relationship," Cook said. "If they need some help, certainly we have resources available that we can recommend. We have parenting classes and we have parenting information that we can give young parents on how to have good communication"