Harmony Home Offering Class to Train Community to Spot Signs of Child Abuse

Harmony Home Offering Class to Train Community to Spot Signs of Child Abuse

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA -  We're learning some new details in a child abuse case out of Odessa.

The two people accused of the crime were indicted on Tuesday.

The investigation was sparked after a Good Samaritan noticed something just wasn't right with the child.

A local children's advocacy center recently launched a new program that's aiming to train people to spot these warning signs.

Harmony Home told NewsWest 9 that alert adults are the lifelines for abused kids so they want the community to know what to look out for.

Officials said it's one of the most disturbing cases of child abuse they've seen. A Grand Jury indicted Tonya and James Carroll on three counts of injury to a child.

According to the indictment, the father and step-mother didn't provide proper food or nutrition and possibly even starved the ten-year-old boy.

The couple is also accused of hitting and striking him with their hands, a cord and even a back scratcher.

Back in December, a Ross store employee noticed the boy looked malnourished and could barely stand.

She eventually heard Tonya Carroll verbally threaten the child so she called police.

Denise Malm with Harmony Home said child abuse happens here more often than you might think.

"Ector is second to Harris County in the state of Texas in regards to severity, numbers of calls so it's a problem. It's a huge problem," Malm said.

The children's advocacy center is stepping in to change that. They've recently launched a new program called "Stewards for Children."

It's a class designed to train the community to spot signs of abuse.

"An unusual bruise that can't be explained, a broken bone that can't be explained, any kind of welts, missing hair that kind of thing," Malm said. "They're suddenly fearful when they weren't before. Perhaps they have trouble sleeping at night."

Malm said it's up to adults to be the child's voice.

"Five percent of Ector County adults would be 5,000 people," Malm said. "If we were able to train 5,000 people over the next year or two, we would see a dramatic drop in the number of cases."

If you or your group is interested in attending a Stewards for Children class, there is a small fee of $10. You can contact Harmony Home at (432) 333-5233 to find out when the next class will be held.