Child Abuse Can Happen in Every Town, Community or Home
Child abuse can happen in any town, neighborhood and home. In Coffee County, many children experience pain and live in fear. Employees of the Coffee County Children’s Advocacy Center, law enforcement and the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) meet victims of child abuse every day.
No community is safe, and, you may know a child who has experienced child abuse. Usually, the red flags exist, and it takes someone with knowledge about child abuse and determination to react responsibly and to report abuse. That’s why it’s important to learn the signs. Child abuse crosses all socioeconomic and educational levels, religions, and ethnic and cultural groups.
In 2020, of the 347 referrals received for services in Coffee County, 40% of the children were 6 years old or younger; 36% between the ages of 7 and 12; and 24% were between 13 and 18.
In 2020, there were 138,747 Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline calls and 77,238 Child Protective Services investigation and assessment hotline cases. According to DCS, the COVID-19 pandemic had a big impact on the Child Abuse Hotline. With most schools, religious services, medical appointments and sporting events canceled, there were fewer eyes on children. This caused a decrease in abuse and neglect referrals. In March 2020 alone, calls to the hotline decreased nearly 20% from the previous year, according to DCS.
In Coffee County, in 2020, there were: 347 referrals; 4 investigations involving the death of a child; 244 investigations involving sexual abuse allegations; 333 total severe child abuse investigations. In May 2021, there were 32 referrals, with 12 children being 6 years of age or younger. Thirteen of the children were from Tullahoma, 10 from Manchester, and nine from the county.
Statistics show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused by age 18; and 95% of victims are abused by someone they know and trust.
The good news is our community can fight the problem and end child abuse if all adults become involved and learn about the issue. When children receive the necessary services, they can thrive. Together we must make efforts to prevent child abuse. We need your help. We can only end child abuse with the help of the community.