Harley riders come in all shapes and sizes and from a huge range of backgrounds. They’ll argue with you all night long about why their favorite bike is the best or what’s the worst thing vehicle drivers do. One thing they all agree on, though, is the value of children.
Every child deserves to grow up feeling safe. Child abuse is horrific, and it shouldn’t happen. When as riders we stand together, we can become a powerful force to rescue children in danger and to prevent future abuse.
You’re invited to join with Dallas Harley-Davidson®, Harley-Davidson® of Dallas and hundreds of other riders for a one-of-a-kind fundraiser and awareness event, the 2019 Teddy Bear Ride. Here’s what you need to know.
Child Abuse in Texas
Child abuse is when a parent or other adult in charge of taking care of a child causes them injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm. The abuser might either do something to the child or refrain from giving care or taking precautions that are reasonably expected. Child abuse includes neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation and emotional abuse.
The Children’s Advocacy Center collects and provides these heartbreaking statistics on child abuse in Texas.
- Today, the day you’re reading this, 175 children in Texas will experience child abuse.
- One out of 10 children will experience sexual abuse before they turn 18. In Texas, there are around 7.4 million children, so that means 740,000 children will be sexually abused.
- Out of the 58,432 child victims the Texas Children’s Advocacy Center served last year, 98 percent of them knew the person who hurt them. It was a parent, family member or someone else close to them, someone they should have been able to trust.
- Last year, out of those 58,432 children served, 47 percent were between the ages of six and 12. Nearly half of abuse victims were very young.
- Girls are more likely to experience child abuse than boys. Of the above, 65 percent were female, 35 percent were male.
It Gets Worse For Those Children
It’s hard enough to think of a child being physically harmed, sexually abused or emotionally assaulted by someone who should love them. But for those children, life doesn’t always get easier just because they get away from the abuse.
Child abuse makes it harder for kids to make healthy choices. They’re more likely to engage in early smoking, sexual activity and drug use. They are more likely than their peers to commit suicide.
For many children, the abuse doesn’t happen just once. When they experience multiple traumas, their risk of life-threatening health conditions goes up. They have a greater chance of developing heart disease, lung disease, hepatitis, depression and diabetes. Some of that might be due to stress, with another portion due to the unhealthy life choices they make because they don’t understand their own worth.
The National Institute of Justice says child abuse victims are 59 percent more likely to be arrested as juveniles and 28 percent more likely to be arrested in adulthood.
Signs of Child Abuse
One of the most important things the Teddy Bear Ride and other fundraisers can do is raise awareness. Since so many Texas children are victims of child abuse, one of the children you know might be experiencing it now. Childwelfare.gov says to watch for the following signs:
- Sudden changes in child behavior or school performance
- A child who is nervous, withdrawn or overly eager to please
- Signs a child isn’t receiving food, proper clothing or medical treatment
- Unexplained or frequent bruises, scratches, bite marks or other injuries
- Trouble learning that isn’t connected to a physical or psychological cause
- Resisting being around certain people or going home
- Lack of personal care
- Inappropriate or risk-taking behavior
If you see signs, you can reach the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County online or call them directly at 972.633.6600.
Does a Teddy Bear Ride Really Make a Difference?
Yes! Last year almost 1,000 motorcycle riders turned out for this family-friendly event. It sends a powerful message that child abuse has no place in the Dallas area.
The Children’s Advocacy Center uses funds raised to rescue child victims of abuse. They also offer programs to help prevent that abuse from occurring in the first place. For example, they provide children with educational programs that help them stay safe from abuse. They provide programs for caregivers to help them protect their children. CAC also teaches adults to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse and how to report it.
Teddy Bear Ride 2019
This year’s ride takes place on Sunday, October 27, with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. at IKEA in Frisco. Kickstands are up at 9:45 a.m.
Riders cover their bikes in teddy bears, stuffed animals that are donated at the ride’s end. Donated bears are given to children who have been rescued from abuse, a soft reminder they are cared for and comfort while they heal. To register or get more information click here.