Child advocate says child abuse cases increase in San Antonio despite pandemic

SAN ANTONIO – Kristina Vestal was arrested after medics reported her to San Antonio Police for child abuse.

Authorities said Vestal was arrested after a young girl was assessed at San Antonio Children’s Hospital for multiple injuries to her head, face and body.

The reporter said he received a text from Vestal saying the girl was injured after falling from the sofa.

However, after further evaluation, medics did not believe Vestal’s story and notified the police.

Children’s advocate Yolanda Valenzuela said she also does not believe Vestal’s claims.

“I had a newborn that is three months old on one of my cases and nothing happened to that newborn,” Valenzuela said. “Rolling off the couch doesn’t cause that kind of injury and many different kinds. “

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Valenzuela worked for the nonprofit Child Advocates San Antonio, or CASA, for 15 years and served on the Bexar County Child Welfare Board.

She said it was difficult for children to share what they were going through during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of this abuse persisted until they recently returned to school and now the numbers are going up because they are screaming now,” Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela said stress can lead to child abuse.

“We had a case where mom and dad, they ran out of hits, you know. They were under a high stress level because school was about to start. They didn’t have shoes. They had no clothes. They didn’t have backpacks, ”Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela said they were able to provide the resources to the family through the different organizations working together in San Antonio.

“Anyone can call 211 and say, ‘I need shoes. I need food. I need hot meals. I need Pampers. I need formula milk, ”said Valenzuela.

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If you know of an abused child, you can report it to the Texas Abuse Hotline and you can remain anonymous at 1-800-252-5400.

Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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