by Larry Little
Child neglect and abuse are serious problems in East Texas. The month of April is set aside to bring more awareness about children facing these issues.
Many of the children at the Kiddie Land Daycare Center in Lufkin, still can't feed themselves and some are even too young to speak, so they depend on adults to take care of them. "It's our most important thing to make sure the kids are safe and well taken care of here," says director Corlis Hulett.
For 14 years Corlis Hulett has been running an East Texas daycare business. Preventing children from getting injured or abused is her top priority. "We make sure there are no broken toys in the daycare. We do background checks on all of the teachers. We make sure these people are safe to work with children," says Hulett.
The state of Texas has done a lot to regulate daycares and lower the number of injuries to children, but neglect and abuse seem to be a growing problem in East Texas and all over the state. Sherry Hawthorne knows first hand. She has been a foster mom to 28 abused or neglected children. Some of their stories are too graphic to tell. "Some kids come in and they are very guarded and they don't talk about what they have been through because they were taught those things are a secret and you don't talk about the family secret," says Sherry Hawthorne.
Sherry and others will proudly wear their blue ribbons this month, hoping to raise awareness and expose hurtful secrets, so another child doesn't have to suffer injury, neglect, or abuse. "If you see a child in a situation that looks dangerous, please feel free to call it in. Parents can call, teachers can call, anyone from the church can call, anyone from the community to let us know a child is in a dangerous situation," says Nacogdoches Child Welfare President, Linda King.