Coffee County General Sessions Court Judge Greg Perry has seen the damaging effects of child abuse in Coffee County, and he urges the community to learn the facts about child abuse. Before being elected to serve as judge, Perry focused on family law, mediation, juvenile law and criminal law.
“The effects of child abuse are very prevalent in our county, as well as in other counties,” Perry said. “The effects of child abuse occur in every type of family, race, religion, creed. (Child abuse) doesn’t pick and choose. Many people think it doesn’t happen to them but it does. We have a very busy docket of child abuse, and (the numbers) are steadily increasing with each docket.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of child abuse cases, as well, according to Perry.
“It’s extremely important to raise awareness because without awareness children can go without receiving the help they need,” Perry said. “It’s vitally important that they receive help, especially at young age, because this is something that can affect (them) for the rest of their lives. It also exposes them to multiple court proceedings and can victimize them more than once.”
Perry urged community members to learn about child abuse and to focus on prevention.
It’s important to be an advocate and a voice for children “to make sure their interest is protected and hopefully to allow them to be able to have a life they’re living as a child instead of a victim.”
One of the toughest challenges when it comes to child abuse is lack of awareness.
“The biggest factor of child abuse awareness is knowing that it happens in our community and other communities, as well,” Perry said.
Often, people don’t notice child abuse signs and avoid the topic.
“With us being a smaller community, we don’t realize what’s going on in our community,” Perry said. “We need to be aware of the signs. We need to be able to try to assist those children in the community and to be able to give them the opportunity to succeed and thrive in the future.”
Child abuse becomes a vicious cycle.
“It becomes a very cyclical process,” Perry said. “I’ve done this for long enough and I am now seeing parents that I once represented as children (victims) of child abuse, and the cycle is repeated. Our goal is to try to break that cycle, get them the help and the services they need to hopefully be contributing members of society in the future.”