A Star-Telegram special report

A voice for children

Confronting child abuse in Tarrant County

Tarrant County has a child abuse problem.

Though countless individuals and agencies work tirelessly on behalf of children in North Texas, the statistics are startling.

In 2016, there were 5,162 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect in Tarrant County, according to state data. That’s down 6 percent from 2015, but still the second-highest total among the state’s five largest counties.

Harris County had the most confirmed cases in 2016, with 5,812.

But when broken down to victims per 1,000 child population, Tarrant County doubles Harris County’s number — 9.67 victims to 4.80 victims.

“Any child who experiences abuse is too much,” said Paul Gravley, executive director of The Parenting Center, a Fort Worth organization that provides services to victims.

The Star-Telegram spent five months exploring the broad topic, and the results are being published in a three-part series, starting with an in-depth look at some troubling child deaths that were ruled undetermined or remain unsolved.

Part 2 takes you on a eye-opening walk down Las Vegas Trail, one of the worst areas of abuse and neglect in Fort Worth.

Part 3 tells the brave stories of survivors and about our role — your role — in reporting suspected abuse.    

Part One

Unfinished lives, undetermined deaths

Could the death of one abused child have saved the life of another?

Somebody beat Khalil Gilbert to death, but his killer remains free

Ruling deaths 'undetermined' isn't wrong, but that doesn't make it right

When meth is mixed with parenting, the results can be fatal

Child abuse trials: 'There are no higher stakes'

Behind the numbers: Child abuse in Tarrant County

Part Two

Trail of despair

Life on Las Vegas Trail: Drugs, guns, abuse — and a sliver of hope

Visionary cop, ex-gang leader, school counselors want to save Las Vegas Trail

A Fort Worth doctor changes how the war on child abuse is being waged

Part Three

Survivors and solutions

Abused by their young parents at 3 months, twins are survivors

For victims, overcoming child abuse is a life-long challenge

Teachers play a very important role in the reporting of child abuse

Agencies work hand-in-hand to investigate cases, keep children safe

When teaching parents, ‘the earlier we can start, the better’

Underwritten to benefit the children in our community by Cook Children’s through the generous support of Bank of America