“Texans love being No. 1 … Sadly, we’re also No. 1 when it comes to child abuse and neglect.”
These words kick off a new televised public service announcement that will be broadcast throughout the Austin area, starting today through early 2016. They’re voiced by Drew Brees, Westlake High School alum and star NFL quarterback with the New Orleans Saints.
“More kids died from abuse last year than in any other state – nearly 10 percent of the national total,” adds Brees’ wife, Brittany, in the 30-second spot. “And Texas came in last in resources fighting this problem.”
The Brees Dream Foundation is partnering with The CARE (Child Abuse Resource and Education) Program at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas to encourage Central Texans to report suspected child abuse to Texas Child Protective Services at (800) 252-5400.
“Too often, people are unaware of how severe and prevalent this problem is in Texas,” Drew Brees said. “They don’t see signs of abuse because they don’t know what the signs are. We are the first line of defense in identifying children who are being abused, and we all have a responsibility to act when we have concerns.”
“Sometime people don’t report something suspicious because they’re afraid or don’t want to get involved – or don’t know who to contact,” Brittany Brees said. “Providing safe, stable and nurturing environments for children during the most critical time for their development requires support from all of us.”
Signs of child abuse include:
- Significant changes in mood or behavior
- Declines in academic performance
- Trouble eating or sleeping
- Inappropriate sexual behaviors
- Substance abuse
- Self-harm behaviors (such as cutting)
- Suicidal thoughts
- New fears of certain situations, places or people
- Unexplained injuries to a child or infant
The Breeses agreed to do the PSA after meeting with Kristi Katz, senior development officer with the Children’s Medical Center Foundation, which supports Dell Children’s. Drew and Brittany have four young children and care about helping children facing daunting challenges and want to help a cause in Austin, Drew’s hometown. When Katz told them about The CARE Program, the Breeses were particularly moved by the startling statistics about Texas.
Dell Children’s is home to the only coordinated medical child abuse assessment, diagnosis and treatment program in Central Texas. The CARE team is comprised of two doctors, three certified nurse practitioners, a pediatric social worker, a clinical manager, an administrative assistant and a collaborating researcher.
CARE Team members serve about 650 patients annually, many of whom are three years of age and younger and are victims of sexual abuse.
Patients often come to Dell Children’s emergency room, but more typically cases are referred to the CARE Team after reports are filed with Child Protective Services and law enforcement agencies and there is a need for a medical opinion and documentation.
The CARE Team’s mission reflects a multifaceted approach to addressing child abuse, providing:
- Comprehensive, evidence-based care to child abuse and neglect victims.
- Education and resources to the community and healthcare workers and other members of child protection teams in outlying areas.
- Analysis of child abuse data for the purpose of seeking answers and instituting best practices.
State law (Dept. of Family and Protective Services TX Family Code, Chapter 261) mandates that anyone having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect must report the case immediately to a state or local law enforcement agency or Child Protective Services.
Current law (Texas Family Code, Chapter 261, 261.101) also requires that professionals such as teachers, doctors, nurses and child day care workers must make a verbal report within 48 hours. Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
About The Brees Dream Foundation
The Brees Dream Foundation was founded in 2003 and is a reliable source of charitable funding globally. Their mission is to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and provide care, education and opportunities for children and families in need. Since its inception 12 years ago, the Brees Dream Foundation has contributed over $23 million to charitable causes globally. To learn more about the Brees Dream Foundation, please visit www.drewbrees.com and follow Drew Brees on Twitter at @drewbrees.