Protecting Victims of Abuse in Texas

Adjunct Faculty Mary Breaux works for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Adjunct Faculty Mary Breaux works for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

For 17 years, Mary Breaux has worked in the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, helping child and adult victims of abuse and neglect.

Breaux, a Ph.D. student in Educational Leadership at Prairie View A & M University, is bringing that real life experience to the College of Criminal Justice as an adjunct faculty member in a class on Child Abuse and Neglect. It enlightens students on the everyday aspects of abuse that occur in the 13 county, Houston metropolitan area.

“It’s really happening,” said Breaux. “It’s out there, and it’s happening now.”

Last year in Region 6, which covers Austin, Brazoria, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller, and Wharton counties, there were 32,859 cases reported of child abuse and neglect and 19,276 involving the elderly and disabled. Those reports resulted in 98,435 confirmed cases involving children and 58,068 involving the elderly statewide.

Photo of a happy father and daughter.Student Esau Gonzales, who took Breaux’s class last year, said he was happy to have a professor with experience in the field. Not only did Breaux stress the mission of TDFPS – to help keep families together whenever possible – but she explained the differences between neglect and abuse.

“It gave us a better point of view about CPS,” Gonzales said.

Currently, the caseload in Region 6 is handled by 1,070 employees, including 965 child abuse case workers and 105 adult protective service caseworkers

“Cases of abused and neglected children are increasingly high”, said Breaux. “Students should become familiar and knowledgeable about the subject and look at factors that surround the abuse such as family dynamics.”

Adjunct Faculty Mary Breaux
Adjunct Faculty Mary Breaux
For 12 years, Breaux worked in Child Protective Services, as a sexual abuse investigator, trainer and hiring specialist. Working as a sexual abuse investigator, Breaux would investigate the sexual abuse cases of children. As a trainer, she trained those that would serve children in the field. As a human resource specialist, Breaux would look for candidates that had good time management and organization skills as well as a sincere dedication to the career and good work history.

“You must have a passion to do this job,” Breaux. The work is difficult and challenging.

Breaux said it is very important to do research on jobs before deciding to make it a career. She said internships and volunteer opportunities at social service agencies during college will help you find out if you are cut for this line of work.

“I really want students to understand the reality of child abuse and neglect,” said Breaux. “Many cases go unreported. It’s happens very often, every day.”

Photo of an elderly woman.For the last seven years, Breaux has served as a community relations specialist for Adult Protective Services, where she educates the community about the neglect and abuse of people over 65 years old or the disabled over 18 years old. She makes presentation to high schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and social service agencies.

One of the trends she has noticed is an increase of elderly clients with mental health issues and a lack of resources to treat them.

“There is a lack of resources for the mentally ill,” Breaux said. Breaux earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Sam Houston State University and a Masters in Human Resource Management from Webster University in St. Louis. Breaux returned to SHSU to teach. She sees it as an extension of her mission.

“I am really excited to have the opportunity to teach,” said Breaux. “I am just giving things back through my education and experience to the wonderful faculty, university and students. The reward for me is when a student says ‘I really learned something and have a better understanding of child abuse and neglect from this course.’”

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