April is Child Abuse Prevention month!

April is Child Abuse Prevention month!  In 1982, Congress resolved that June 6–12 should be designated as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week; the following year, President Reagan proclaimed April to be the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a tradition that continues to this day. The National Exchange Club honors Child Abuse Prevention Month through events and activities to raise awareness and support children and families.

Aware has a couple of events going on during the month of April. Check out our FB page and our website. Join us in preventing child abuse and family violence!

Parent’s Corner – What If’s



Dear Sue Ellen


I don’t have any children yet, but we are thinking about it.  What if we are bad parents or our baby is born with a handicap?  I don’t know if I have what it takes to be a parent.  Any words of encouragement?




Dear Alex,


It seems to me, the “what-ifs” in life can take us down dark rabbit-holes we have a hard time crawling out of.  “What-ifs” can lead us to depression, anxiety, fear, and hopelessness.  We can become defeated.


Life is full of uncertainty.   How we navigate through the twists and turns of our journey on earth helps to build our characters.  What are your strengths?  What is causing you to question your ability to be a good parent?  Good parenting usually passes from generation to generation.  We mostly learn how to be a parent from our own parents and grandparents.  How do you rate your own parents and grandparents?  The good news is, we can easily be taught better parenting skills if need be.  It just takes an investment of time and thought.  Parenting classes are available in most communities.


I have the privilege of knowing parents with handicapped children, and have learned so much from both the parents and their kids.  I believe the world needs children with special needs because of what they teach us.  I also believe parents are chosen by a higher power to be entrusted with the care of special needs children.  Does that make it easy to be that special parent? No.  If you are looking for a good time as a parent, you might want to get a pet instead.  Being a good parent isn’t for the faint of heart.  It can be the best and worst experience of your life.


Here are my words of encouragement for you. If you are a person of faith, rely on what you know about love to guide your decision.  If you aren’t a person of faith, find some.  You will need it if you decide to become a parent.



Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

Parent’s Corner – Girls That are Mean to Boys



Dear Sue Ellen

I hear and see things on the internet and TV about girls that are mean to other girls.  But what about girls that are mean to boys?  My 14-year-old son is crazy about his first girlfriend but she is really mean to him.  He can’t see past her beauty to see that she is selfish and hateful.  Am I supposed to watch this mean girl break his heart and do nothing to prevent it?




Dear C.M


We all have regrets as parents.  One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t teach my son to beware of pretty girls with selfish agendas coming after him.  It has caused him a lot of trouble that could have been avoided if he had known that just because a girl is pretty, or smart, or smitten with him it would automatically be a good thing to get close to her.  Trouble and temptation often come wrapped in a beautiful seductive package.


There comes a time when we gradually let our children start making their own decisions. If you try to discourage your son at this point, will he listen to you?  Probably not.  Maybe you could sit down with him and express your concerns anyway.  He may not agree, but at least you would have warned him.  When this relationship blows up, don’t you dare tell him “I told you so”.  That would make you a mean Mom.  Be patient, loving and supportive.


Have you had the sex talk with him?  Mean girls sometimes use sex to control boys.  He should be aware of that.


If your son’s grades start dropping or his personality changes and he becomes moody or unpleasant you might consider taking a harder “tough love” approach and have a family intervention or demand that he break-up with her.  Mean girls like to create discord and strife.  They love the drama.  They also like to isolate their targeted victim from friends and family.  Did I mention that mean girls are sometimes abusive?


To all parents of boys:  Please teach your sons about mean girls.  They can destroy a good boy.  Teach your sons to stay away from girls that don’t show good moral character.  Teach them that abstaining from sex until the right time (preferably when they get married) is a good thing.  They won’t die from lack of sex.  To all parents of mean girls:  I am not hating on your daughters.  They are looking for love in the wrong way.  Please show your daughters love and direction.  Teach them the value of being a good person.  You may have to watch your son’s heart be broken by this mean girl.  Whatever direction you choose to go in coping with this situation, temper it with love, patience and kindness.


Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

The NO Word




Dear Sue Ellen


I was at the park with my grandson a few days ago, and a little boy walked over to my grandson and pushed him down for no apparent reason. The boy’s mother saw the whole thing and I was shocked by her reaction.  She didn’t scold or correct her son, but looked at my grandson who was still on the ground as if he did something wrong.  She offered her son an ice cream cone as they walked off together.  Maybe I am out of touch, but it seems to me that his mother should have punished him for being bad instead of rewarding him with ice cream.  Am I missing something here?



Dear Nana,


I have a word for parents that let their kids get away with bad behavior.  The word is NO.  Here are some helpful suggestions for when to use that word:


No, you can’t be mean to other children.

No, you can’t always have your way.

No, you will not say hateful things to your parents, or other adults, or other children.

No, you’re not going to stay up past your bed time.

No, you can’t skip your bath.

No, you don’t get to color on the walls.

No, you won’t get away with accidently-on-purpose forgetting to brush your teeth.

No, you can’t run wild through the aisles of Wal-Mart


No isn’t a bad word.  It is a healthy word that teaches children boundaries.  We all need boundaries.  It helps us to understand there are limits in life, and to feel safe.  Did you know that not teaching your children good boundaries is a form of child neglect?  A lot of times it is easier to give in and let our kids have their way, but is it the best thing for the kids?  No.


It’s our job as parents and grandparents to teach our children to become responsible, productive and healthy adults.  It is one the hardest jobs we will ever have, and the most important.

Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

Parents Corner – Whining!

Dear Sue Ellen


When my daughter turned 13 she became a world class whiner.  She whines about dinner, her hair, doing homework, spending time with her family.  You name it, she whines about it.  Is there any cure for this ailment?

Wit’s End Mom



Dear Wit’s End Mom,


It is not my intention to be offensive, but to discuss this problem, I should first ask:  Are you a whiner?  I’ve heard so-called experts in the field of child development say that children’s environments are a contributing factor to their growth and development.  A child growing up in a home of whiners is more likely to become a whiner too.


Did you ever hear parent’s say “do as I say and not as I do”?  I think it was meant to be a joke. Children learn how to behave through the behaviors of people around them.  Parents are kidding themselves if they think children don’t see what is going on in their home. They may not understand what they are seeing, but it will impact how they perceive relationships and the world around them.


If you are still reading this column (after I hurt your feelings and gave you something else to whine about), thank you for staying with me.  There is another likely situation going on here.  It’s the “P” word that most parents dread and fear.  Puberty.  Those same so-called experts have a lot of opinions about puberty, but here is a short version.  When kid’s bodies start the transition from child to adult, a lot of amazing and terrifying things happen.  For example, hormones can put a child all over the emotional map (parents too).  If you are interested, there are plenty of books in the library about puberty.  I don’t know if there is a parent’s guide on how to survive puberty, but there should be.


As parents, we don’t get to dictate our children’s personalities, the way they look or how they will turn out as adults.  But we do get to nurture them, teach them and watch them grow.  It’s possible that your daughter’s whining phase will end. If nobody in your family is a whiner except your daughter, you may be asking yourself “Where did that behavior come from?”

I don’t know any parent that hasn’t asked that question about their child at some point in time.

I think some children are aliens from another galaxy.  I hope your daughter isn’t from the Whiner planet.


In conclusion, the best remedy is love and patience…for both of you.



Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

Parent’s Corner – Grannies Gone Wild


Dear Sue Ellen


I love my 72-year-old Grannie, but I am thinking about grounding her.  Grannie and her (equally-as-old) best friend, Mama Millie, took my daughter for the day.  They told me they were going to the flea market.  When they brought my daughter back her clothes were dirty, she had fake tattoos on her arms, and chocolate smeared on her face.  They totally ignored the instructions I gave them.  My daughter is only four years old.  I never should have let her go.  I don’t want to hurt my Grannie’s feelings but enough is enough.  Any suggestions on how to handle this?



Dear Michelle,


I really want to tell you and your generation to loosen up, but I won’t.  I hope that someday when your Grannie and Mama Millie are up in heaven, you and your daughter can laugh about this.  It’s a charming family story that you could share for the next 2 or 3 generations and, like all family stories, it will change with each telling.  By the time your daughter is a grandmother she may tell the story something like this.  “When I was a toddler, Grannie and Mama Millie took me to Nassau for the day and we swam with Dolphins, sang karaoke and went parasailing.  It was amazing!”


Your Grannie sounds like a reflection of her generation.  She was probably a teenager in the 1960’s.  That was a unique time in our history.  Girls wore embroidered sundresses and flowers in their long braids.  They were also on the wild side…okay, that is an understatement.


Maybe you can take a moment to reflect on why you love your Grannie.  Do you have any fond memories of being with her when you were a little girl?  Did your parents approve of you spending time with her?   Do you think your daughter’s safety or welfare was compromised, or are you just aggravated because they didn’t follow your instructions?  Here is a little tidbit for you.  Grandparents and even great-grandparents know how to roll their eyes.


So here is my suggestion.  Let your daughter be around her Grannie, but maybe the next time she wants to take your daughter and Mama Millie somewhere for the day, you should go too.   Who knows… you may end up with fake tattoos this time.



Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

Prevention Education Coordinator needed!

POSITION:             Prevention Education Coordinator

Location:                  Belton, Texas



Duties:       The Prevention Education Coordinator will be responsible for, but not limited to the following tasks and responsibilities:


  1. Conduct anti-victimization education and other related programs that promote child abuse/family violence prevention
  2. Provide instruction in classrooms, grades pre-K to 12 as well as provide adult education
  3. Participate in community outreach, including networking with schools and community
  4. Public Speaking
  5. Seek new referral sources for at-risk families and children
  6. Attend various meetings, presentations, events, activities as related to program.
  7. Maintain appropriate documentation including, but not limited to, assessments, weekly and monthly reports, budget report, volunteer files; etc.
  8. Assist in fund raising activities
  9. Ability to work some evenings and weekends
  10. Demonstrate an attitude of willingness to communicate, strategize and work well with others in a team based setting.
  11. Seek professionally qualified consultant services for occurrences/needs outside of the family service plan
  12. Prevention Education Coordinator reports to the Executive Director


Minimum Requirements: Applicant must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work or other human services field and one year of experience working with at-risk youth and families.  The Prevention Education Coordinator must perform duties in a responsible and ethical manner.  The Prevention Education Coordinator must be able to effectively communicate with individuals from diverse backgrounds.


Consideration: If you would like to be considered as a candidate for this position please e-mail an application, resume, and brief letter of interest to mbiddick@awarecentraltexas.org. Position will remain open until filled.


Parent’s Corner “Excuse Me…Is That Your Child or a Wild Donkey?”


Dear Sue Ellen


I was at my nail salon the other day and a young woman came in with four small children.  While she was getting her manicure, the children were unsupervised and disruptive to everyone there.  I really wish parents would be respectful of others instead of letting their children run loose in public places.  It’s potentially dangerous, and quite annoying.






Dear Beverly,


I may have a solution for this problem.  Let’s pass a law that requires all parents to sign an agreement at the hospital before they take their newborns home.  The agreement will include the following terms under penalty of law.  Failure to comply will result in mandatory parenting classes.


  1. No dirty diapers discarded in parking lots.
  2. No screaming babies, children or parents in public places.
  3. Children will not be allowed to climb on shelves in stores or steal candy at the check-out line.
  4. No shaking, spinning or climbing on bubble gum machines or any other public equipment.
  5. It will be unlawful for parents, or children, to throw tantrums in public places.
  6. Punishing a child for coming unglued because they are tired, hungry or thirsty will not be permitted. Parents are responsible for attending to their children’s needs.
  7. Parents and their children are not allowed to run unattended and bray like donkeys in public places.


Maybe I should run for office.  What do you think?





Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

Recognizing the signs of child abuse – from the Temple Daily Telegram

Unfortunately, child abuse is far too prevalent and often goes unnoticed, or worse, ignored. The number of children suffering each year from abuse is staggering. According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, there were 66,721 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect in Texas in 2015. Among those cases, 8,127 were in Central Texas. Recognizing the telltale signs of child abuse and can save children from suffering abuse in our community.

There are four main types of child mistreatment: physical, neglectful, emotional and sexual abuse. Physical abuse includes physical injury that causes harm or the threat of physical injury to a child. Physical abuse involves punching, shaking, kicking, beating, biting, choking and burning, and is considered abuse regardless of whether the individual intended to hurt the child. Signs that a child is being physically abused include frequent injuries such as bruises, cuts, broken bones, black eyes and burns without plausible explanations; bruises or burns in unusual patterns such as the shape of an object or fingerprints, bite marks, cigarette burns; multiple complaints of pain without obvious injury; fear of going home; aggressive and destructive or passive and withdrawn behavior; clothing that may be hiding injuries to arms or legs, such as wearing long sleeves during summer; or presence of injuries after not seeing the child for several days.

The second type of abuse is neglect, characterized by the intentional failure to provide a child’s basic needs. Signs of neglect include obvious malnourishment, torn or dirty clothing, lack of hygiene, being unattended for long periods of time, frequent absences or tardiness at school, stealing or begging for food, or an unaddressed need for glasses, medical attention, or dental care.

Emotional abuse involves aggressive language, yelling, name calling, insults, humiliation, extreme forms of punishment (such as confining a child in a dark closet), excessive criticism, destruction of personal belongings or withholding attention. Emotional abuse causes significant psychological harm. According to the American Psychological Association, emotional abuse is as harmful as physical or sexual abuse. Signs of emotional abuse include low self-esteem; depression, anxiety or aggression; over-compliance; difficulty making friends; or delayed physical, emotional, or intellectual development.

The fourth type of abuse is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse involves engaging in any form of sexual contact with a child, asking a child to engage in sexual activities, indecent exposure of genitals, exposing a child to pornography or using a child to produce pornography. Signs that a child is being sexually abused include physical signs of a sexually transmitted disease; evidence of injury to genital area; sexual comments or behavior; extreme fear of being alone with adults of a certain gender; sexual knowledge beyond what’s expected for age; pregnancy in a young girl; guilt, self-blame, or depression; nightmares or insomnia; or sexual victimization of other children.

If you are concerned at all that a child is possibly being abused, please call Child Protective Services immediately at 1-800-252-5400. Your call could save a child’s life.

Dr. Nishath Farhad is a pediatric resident at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center.

Parent’s Corner – How Far Would You Go?




Dear Sue Ellen


My family don’t like my boyfriend.  We have a baby and I want my family to be around us buy my boyfriend says no.  Sometime he gets real mad and pushes me around a little bit.  That’s why my family doesn’t like him.  I know he don’t mean to hurt me.  I love him but I miss my family so much.  It makes me sad that my baby girl won’t get to know my parents and my sister.  I tried to tell my boyfriend that my family won’t get between us but he don’t listen.  I am stuck in the middle.  He would be real mad if he knew I wrote to you but I am desperate.

Sad Girl


Dear Sad Girl,


Let me review.  You have a boyfriend you say you love, but he doesn’t want you to be around your family and he gets mad and pushes you around sometimes.   I am guessing that he gets mad at you when you don’t do exactly what he tells you to do or when he is in a bad mood, and somehow it always ends up being your fault.  He throws a fit and then afterwards he sucks up to you and acts all nice.  Am I right?


What I have just described is a classic domestic violence scenario.  You say you love him, but how far are you willing to go for love?  Are you willing for him to abuse your baby girl?  Are you willing to live in fear of making him angry all the time?  Are you willing to give up your family for him?  Are you willing to go on being abused because you love him?


The way he treats you is not love.   In other words, he is not loving you back.   He is abusing you.  If this continues, he will destroy you.  Are you willing to be destroyed for love?  Over time you will be stripped of your confidence.  What are you teaching your baby girl about life?


Please take your baby and go home to your family before this situation takes a sinister turn and somebody gets really hurt.  If your boyfriend loves you he will get help and try to win you back.  If he is an abuser he will probably try to punish you for leaving.  He may lie to you and say things will be better if you just come back to him, but they won’t unless he gets help.  And, things won’t change overnight.


You must make some hard choices or you will be a sad girl all your life and you will teach your baby to grow up and become a sad girl too.  Please get help now.


Please email your parenting questions to sejackson@awarecentraltexas.org and put “Parent’s Corner” in the Subject line.

If you need help, please call one of the following: Family Violence Unit Hotline-254-813-0968,  Families In Crisis – and National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1800-799-7233(SAFE)