McLane Children’s Medical Center hosted its third annual Stand Up Against Child Abuse event on Friday during Child Abuse awareness month.
Chief Operating Officer Ellen Hansen said in 2017, staff saw nearly 1,000 children victims of abuse at the hospital.
The event ended with a balloon release to honor the victims, which was a moment of reflection for Hansen.
“What I was thinking is how senseless it all is. How much we are losing our future. This children could be anything, anyone and for no reason at all, they are not with us or they’re abused to the point that they’re unrecoverable," Hansen said.
Hansen admits it puts an emotional strain on the staff to see children fighting different battles.
“It’s not uncommon to have one room with a child that has been diagnosed with cancer, with parents that would do anything for a child and would trade places with the child in a moment’s notice and the next room, we are seeing a child that was purposely and intentionally abused," Hansen said.
Temple Police Detective Casey Sheppard said it is also emotional for him to continue responding to child abuse cases.
“It gets harder. Once you become more aware of the things that children get put through, it gets harder. It affects you in not only a work level but in a personal level," Sheppard said.
He became emotional when speaking about the challenges of raising children and reminded the crowd the importance of showing children love and respect.
"I've also witnessed the loving, the caring, the innocent side. Seeing the way my son looks at the world, I would gladly trade a thousand of the bad days for one of the good," Sheppard said.
Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza praised both the hospital staff and officers caring for the victims.
"You're are representative of the heart and soul of this community when you stand up and you're there when you are needed and you don't hesitate," Garza.
McLane Children’s staff, members of Bikers Against Child Abuse, Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza, State Rep. Hugh Shine, representatives from Court Appointed Special Advocate for Bell and Coryell Counties and Temple Police department officers attended.
Rep. Shine said his heart goes out to those in the front lines and the members of organizations helping neglected children.
To report child abuse, you can contact the local police department or call the Department of Family and Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400. To help children who enter their foster system because their home is no longer safe, you can volunteer with CASA.
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