Caseworkers with the Department of Child Protective Services removed the youngster from the home and the stepmother was arrested, charged and imprisoned.
More than 400 cases of abuse and neglect were reported in Bee County last year, the CPS reported.
Of those, 287 children were identified as having been abused or neglected, 24 so badly they had to be removed from their homes.
“People need to know that the Bee County office receives a report of abuse and neglect every day,” said CPS program administrator Billie Winner. “Every single day the Bee County office is receiving a report that a child is being abused or neglected, either emotionally or physically.”
Winner, and her colleagues at CPS, joined Bee County leaders in spreading that message on Wednesday.
They tied 213 blue balloons, one for each child in Texas who died last year from abuse or neglect, to the outside of the Bee County Courthouse as part of the Go Blue Day campaign, which encourages folks to wear blue on April 8 to bring awareness to the plight of the smallest citizens.
No children from Bee County were among those who died last year because of abuse or neglect.
Bee County Judge David Silva said everyone in the community should work together to prevent child abuse and neglect.
At Wednesday’s Go Blue Day ceremony in front of the courthouse, he read a proclamation, signed by himself and all four county commissioners, recognizing the month of April as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.
“Children are the future of our county and of our nation, so we need to take care of them,” Silva said, addressing the small but spirited crowd assembled outside the courthouse on Wednesday.
“Child abuse prevention is a community responsibility and finding solutions depends on involvement among all people. Everyone in the community should become more aware of child abuse prevention and consider helping parents raise their children in a safe, nurturing environment.”
Citing statistics, Silva said more than 200,000 children in Texas are reported as abused or neglected every year.
“(A total of) 287 abused and neglected children in Bee County is a lot for a county as small as Bee County,” said Lisa DelBosque, chairwoman of the Bee County Welfare Board.
The Bee County Child Welfare Board is charged with providing clothing, food and other items to abused and neglected children between the time they are taken from their homes to when they are placed in a safer environment, be it with relatives or foster parents.
Analisa Benoit, a an investigations program director for Child Protective Services, said the number of child abuse and neglect cases has risen dramatically over the past 20 years, as has the cost to fund the growing staff needed to investigate the cases.
The Bee County office has five caseworkers who investigate child abuse and neglect reports in Bee, Live Oak, McMullen and Refugio counties.
That abuse and neglect can range from harming children emotionally to broken bones and bruises, said John Lennan, a public information officer for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
“Abuse and neglect can be as simple as not feeding a child or not taking a child to the doctor for medical care, to not changing diapers for days or burning children with cigarettes,” he said.
Winner said some parents are charged with abusing and neglecting their children because they were too high on drugs to take care of their little ones.
“We’ve had parents take their children with them when they went to buy drugs,” she recalled.
Abuse and neglect can also be as simple as demeaning your child on a regular basis, Lennan added.
“I read a sign the other day that said the worst thing you can do about child abuse is to do nothing,” he said. “And that about sums it up, because everyone in the community can do something to prevent child abuse, even if it’s just donating blood. That blood goes to Driscoll Children’s Hospital and might be given to a child who has been abused and neglected.”
In one instance, CPS removed a child from a Bee County home last year because its diaper had not been changed in days and the diaper rash had turned into open sores, an investigator reported.