East Texas experts offer insight to reduce statistics as Texas reports increase in child abuse deaths

East Texas experts offer insight to reduce statistics as Texas reports increase in child abuse deaths

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - State data shows child deaths in Texas jumped from 171 to 222 for the fiscal year of 2016.

In East Texas, one fatality was reported in Angelina County and another in Shelby County by the Department of Family and Protective Services. However, the Angelina County Sheriff's Office said the number of child abuse cases they are currently investigating is a staggering number.

"Two of our investigators worked 378 crimes against persons in Angelina County (for 2017)," said Brett Maisel, an investigator with ACSO.
Maisel and Investigators Libby Hancock said of the 378 cases, a substantial number were crimes against children.

"In recent years, both Detective Hancock and I have worked cases to where the abuse or neglect did result in a death of a child in Angelina County," Maisel said.

Across the state, DFPS reports the number of child fatalities has increased in the last five years from 156 in 2013 to 222 in 2016.

Ashley Cook, a child advocate in Lufkin, said fear is one of biggest obstacles that prevents children from saying anything.

"If your own parent or caregiver is your bully, you're not going to reach out to them for help or feel safe," Cook said. "Or you may have grown-up in an environment of abuse and that may be your normal."

Experts said if you come across a child who you believe is in enduring abuse or neglect report it to area law enforcement.

"Awareness in the community is a very big deal," Hancock said. "The more people understand child abuse, what to look for, the signs, then they can more quickly relay that information to law enforcement and CPS. We can get the proper help involved, start an investigation, maybe intervene in the child's life to where it doesn't go to the point of injury or death."

Some of the commons signs to look for include markings of physical injuries, neglect and the living conditions and environment of the child.

DFPS said the statistic of child abuse fatalities can fluctuate because Texas has one of the largest child populations in the country.

The data for 2017 has not yet been released.

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