Child abuse and domestic violence have become topics of growing interest within our Rio Grande Valley. Especially with recent cases surrounding the deaths of babies. Experts and leaders in child abuse prevention, intervention and investigation are coming together.
Sonja Eddleman, Child/Adult Abuse Response Team at Valley Baptist says, “We see about 1,800 patients a year and we know we’re probably only seeing 10% – 15% of the children that are actually being abused.”
Sonja Eddleman with Valley Baptist’s Child to Adult Abuse Response Team and other physicians are making sure more child abuse cases are recognized and taken care of. This in part thanks to their 13th Annual Seminar of Forensic Sciences taking place at South Padre Island.
“I think everybody including the speakers will walk away with some new piece of knowledge that they can use to help take care of children, to recognize abuse because many times that’s the issue that abuse is occurring and we don’t even recognize it.” Said Eddleman.
Robert Vela with Child Protective Services Special Investigator says, “The public doesn’t know, they know probably a fraction of what’s out there.”
As a special investigator with Child Protective Services, Vela works from two to five child abuse cases every week. Though stationed in Hidalgo County, Vela is dispatched anywhere in the state. Every year he attends this seminar hoping it will help him do his job better.
Robert Vela, CPS Special Investigator says, “Every year, different doctors from all over the United States are brought in to bring their expertise and what we do with that information is that we take it out on the field to use it in our investigations when we’re out working these kinds of cases.”
So what kind of crucial pieces of information are investigators, attorneys, nurses, and child care providers learning? For one, domestic violence between parents also affect children.
Sonja Eddleman, “Many people think that it is adults only and children aren’t being affected. But we know that children in those homes are 1500 times more likely to be abused.”
Social media is playing a huge part in sexual assault cases. Parents are urged to monitor their children’s smartphones and computers. Especially their pictures. Eddleman says those are gold mines to perpetrators.
Sonja Eddleman, “You have to be willing to listen to children and to believe what they say and act on their part.”
If you do suspect something is wrong or suspicious, please call Child Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400. The seminar will go through this Friday on South Padre Island.