LUBBOCK, Texas– According to the Department of Family and Protective Services, Lubbock County ranked above average for maltreatment compared to other Texas counties.

Over the past few years, several children in Lubbock County died from child abuse, which falls under domestic violence, according to Dr. Brian Payne, Chief Medical Officer at the University Medical Center Children’s Hospital.

“As stress increases, sometimes children can be harmed- especially if the families don’t have employment. They’re struggling financially. The children sometimes are abused during those stressful moments that may exist in those families’ lives,” said Dr. Payne. “So, if I could say anything, it’s, ‘Hey, reach out for the help, and there are those who are very eager to support you, and put you in a safe place for your sake and also for your child’s sake,'” Dr. Payne encouraged.

UMC Children’s Hospital provides free therapy, including long-term and telehealth, for families and children who are struggling with unhealthy and toxic interpersonal relationships.

Other community groups, including the Parenting Cottage, Lubbock Area United Way, the Children’s Advocacy Center and Women’s Protective services offer various resources for victims of domestic violence.

“If a parent is in an abusive relationship, I think it’s understanding that they don’t need to be in that relationship; [and] to protect themselves and their child,” Dr. Payne shared.

How to report child abuse in Lubbock:

Women’s Protective Services said it will host a virtual candlelight vigil on Friday night to encourage victims to get out and honor the 204 Texans who weren’t able to last year.

According to the Texas Council of Family violence, 2 of the 204 victims killed by an intimate partner in 2021 were from Lubbock County, Molly Beckman, 23, and Sylvia Arteaga Hernandez, 59.

Molly Beckman was a Texas Tech HSC student who was stabbed by her boyfriend, Colton Totzke. Sylvia Arteaga Hernandez, 59 was found under dead in Buddy Holly Park after being hit with a car and shot by her husband.

“Unfortunately, it’s a very serious reminder of how this affects not only the women that were killed and the men, but their families that were affected– so many families and friends– and unfortunately, this is a trend that has been continuing to rise,” said Steven Garcia, the Outreach and Legal Coordinator for Women’s Protective Services. “We need to do a better job of getting the word out there- letting people know that there is help available to where hopefully, it won’t escalate to the murders and deaths.

WPS said it not only offers shelter, therapy and legal help for victims, but also a 26 week-long Battering Intervention and Prevention Program for the perpetrators and abusers.

“It is designed to break them down, make them aware and admit to the tactics that they’re doing, and why they were doing it. Then later on, we have to build them back up the right way,” Garcia described.

He said the program can help perpetrators be accountable and responsible and help them prepare to for a healthier future.

“Don’t get me wrong: not everyone can be helped, but it would be irresponsible for us to not try, because there are some that can be saved. There are some that can change,” Garcia added. “I think it’s very important to make them better husbands, boyfriends, [and] parents in the future. That’s our responsibility.”

Resources for parents on the South Plains: