Viral photos showed a Texas man dragging a girl by her hair, prompting an investigation by child welfare officials and police. But police and the woman who captured the images say that it’s a reminder for witnesses to speak up when it comes to child abuse.
The man was apparently dragging along his daughter in a Walmart in Cleveland, Texas. The scene was captured by shopper, Erika Burch, it was reported.
“Please stop! I promise I won’t do it again! Please stop!” Burch said of what the 5-year-old girl was pleading to her father, KHOU reported.
She told him to let her go, and he told Burch to mind her own business.
“He is a sick, sick , sick animal is what he is,” Burch told KHOU.
Burch then contacted a police officer, who called his sergeant.
“He has the right to discipline his children,” Burch said the sergeant told her, KHOU reported.
“Now this baby had to go home with this monster thinking that nobody cared about her and it’s okay for this animal to pull her by the hair of her head,” Burch said.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 22, 2016
She then posted the photos on social media, and many said the dad should be locked up, according to local reports. No charges were filed.
“It’s not OK for anyone to drag you by the hair on your head,” Burch told local outlets, adding that she thinks others should have done something.
An investigation was launched, CBS reported.
“Of course, that old saying, ‘if you see something, say something,’” Cleveland Police Chief Daniel Broussard told CBS. “In this case, I have to applaud those witnesses who attempted to intervene for the safety of the child.”
The shopper at a Cleveland Walmart said she heard the girl crying and begging the man to let go of her hair.
Not a Unique Scenario
According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (pdf), approximately 3.5 million children nationwide in 2016 were the subjects of at least one maltreatment report to authorities.
“Child abuse is one of the nation’s most serious concerns,” the authors wrote in the introduction.
About 17 percent of those reports were substantiated; the department said that there were an estimated 676,000 victims of child abuse and neglect, or 9.1 victims per 1,000 children.
Children in their first year of life had the highest rate of victimization at 24.8 per 1,000 children of the same age in the national population.
About three-quarters of the cases were neglect while about 18 percent were physical abuse. Some children suffered from multiple forms of maltreatment.
Of the perpetrators of the abuse, more than four-fifths were between the ages of 18 and 44 and more than half were women.
To elaborate on the problem, Childhelp.org says, “Every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies involving more than 6.6 million children (a referral can include multiple children).”
And each year, “referrals to state child protective services involve 6.6 million children, and around 3.2 million of those children are subject to an investigated report.”