SAN ANTONIO – The number of cases of child abuse and neglect in 2017 has gone up almost 36 percent from 2014.
After more than 5,846 cases of child abuse and neglect in 2013, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services saw the numbers steadily drop down to 4,550 in 2016. Last year, however, the number of cases exceeded the 2013 figure with 6,175 confirmed victims, a 35.71 percent jump from 2014 when the numbers began to fall.
“In 2017, we had the largest number of confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect,” said Anais Biera Miracle, spokeswoman for the Children’s Shelter of San Antonio.
Besides the growth in Bexar County’s population, Judge Peter Sakai, who hears many of the cases in Children’s Court, said: “It’s drug addiction. It’s mental health issues. It’s domestic and family violence.”
Sakai said the Children’s Court has been dealing with the situation by “aggressively looking at the high rate of removals with more preventive measures.” He said, for example, there’s the family preservation docket.
“We try to get custody orders for relatives and getting children out of the foster care system and back with family,” Sakai said.
But Sakai said the bottom line is more resources for prevention.
Miracle said the shelter is trying to develop more strategies to effectively reach parents grappling with substance abuse, mental illness and learned behavior from generation to generation.
Sakai said Bexar County offers numerous resources such as Family Violence Prevention Services and Family Services Association. He also urges families to help their members to get the help they need, especially for the children’s sake.
“The more families we intervene, the more cycle of abuse and neglect we break,” Sakai said.
Below is information from the 2017 Texas Department of Family and Protective Services' Databook:
Confirmed victims of abuse and neglect: 6,175
Children waiting for adoption since August 31, 2017: 874
Children in adoption placements since August 31, 2017: 687
Children in foster/adoptive homes since August 31, 2017: 122
Consummated adoptions: 682
Removals of children: 2,367
1,467 at Investigations
900 at Family Preservation
Children in DFPS conservatorship: 5,437
Children placed in substitute care: 5,291
Kinship Caregiver Monetary Assistance: 1,157
Bexar County comparative data over the course of five years:
- 2017- 6,175 children
- 2016- 4,550 children
- 2015- 4,941 children
- 2014- 5,434 children
- 2013- 5,846 children