Info and Answers


At Junior’s House, Inc., Child Advocacy Center, we want to be a source of information for everyone in the community interested in the welfare of our children.

If you can’t find an answer to your question here, we hope that you will call us at 931-438-3233 or email us at crystal@juniorshousecac.org.

Definitions

What is child abuse?
Although there are many formal and acceptable definitions of child abuse, the following is offered as a guide. Child abuse consists of any act of commission or omission that endangers or impairs a child’s physical or emotional health and development. Child abuse includes any damage done to a child which cannot be reasonably explained and which is often represented by an injury or series of injuries appearing to be non-accidental in nature.

Major forms of child abuse
Physical abuse – Any non-accidental injury to a child. This includes hitting, kicking, slapping, shaking, burning, pinching, hair pulling, biting, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping, and paddling.

Sexual abuse – Any sexual act between an adult and child. This includes fondling, penetration, intercourse, exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, child prostitution, group sex, oral sex, or forced observation of sexual acts.

Neglect – Failure to provide for a child’s physical needs. This includes lack of supervision, inappropriate housing or shelter, inadequate provision of food, inappropriate clothing for season or weather, abandonment, denial of medical care, and inadequate hygiene.

Emotional abuse – Any attitude or behavior which interferes with a child’s mental health or social development. This includes yelling, screaming, name-calling, shaming, negative comparisons to others, telling them they are “bad, no good, worthless” or “a mistake”. It also includes the failure to provide the affection and support necessary for the development of a child’s emotional, social, physical and intellectual well-being. This includes ignoring, lack of appropriate physical affection (hugs), not saying “I love you”, withdrawal of attention, lack of praise, and lack of positive reinforcement.

Signs & Symptoms

The following are a few of the physical and behavioral indicators of child abuse and neglect.

PHYSICAL ABUSE
Unexplained burns, cuts, bruises, or welts in the shape of an object
1.   Bite marks
2.   Anti-social behavior
3.   Problems in school
4.   Fear of adults

EMOTIONAL ABUSE
1.    Apathy
2.   Depression
3.   Hostility or stress
4.   Lack of concentration
5.  Eating disorders

SEXUAL ABUSE
1.   Inappropriate interest or knowledge of sexual acts
2.   Nightmares and bed wetting
3.   Drastic changes in appetite
4.   Over compliance or excessive aggression
5.   Fear of a particular person or family member

NEGLECT
1.   Unsuitable clothing for weather
2.   Dirty or unbathed
3.   Extreme hunger
4.   Apparent lack of supervision

Statistics

    • One in four girls will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
    • One in six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
    • There are over 1,550 reports of child physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and neglect in the 17th Judicial District, averaging over 390 reports per month.

Help for Kids & Teens

If someone is hurting you, tell someone—do not keep it a secret. If you are sexually abused, tell a trusted adult or friend. If that person does not believe you or listen, tell someone else. By telling someone, the abuse can stop and it may keep someone else from getting hurt.

    • No one has the right to abuse you.
    • If you are being abused, you are a victim.
    • It’s not your fault if you are being treated this way.
    • You are not alone—other kids suffer abuse, too.
    • Sometimes abusers scare or threaten kids so they won’t tell.
    • There are people who care about you, will listen and want to help you.

Safe vs. Unsafe Touching
Child sexual abuse can take many forms—obscene phone calls, exposure, showing a child nude photos, touching body parts, oral/vaginal/anal intercourse. Child sexual abuse is not the same as fond and playful ways of showing love.

How to Help a Friend
Believe your friend if they tell you something has happened, they will need your support. Listen carefully and do not laugh. Help them report to someone who can help (counselor, CAC, child protective worker, law enforcement, teacher). Let your friend know that the abuse is not their fault. Respect their privacy. Let them know you care.

Internet Safety
Never give out personal information such as name, address or phone numbers. Never post or send photos of yourself. Never chat with anyone on-line that you do not know and NEVER agree to meet in person.

How to Report Abuse
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is mandated by law to investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. Immediately report your suspicions by calling:

Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline: 1-877-237-0004
You can reach the toll free number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You may also call:
Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department: 931-433-9821
Fayetteville City Police Department: 931-438-7771

Protect Yourself

      • Do not be alone with someone that hurts you or if you don’t feel safe with them.
      • Listen to the little voice inside when it tells you something is not right.
      • If anyone touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, say NO, go to a safe place, and tell a trusted adult.
      • Never keep secrets about touching.
      • Anytime you feel mixed up about a touch—tell the person to stop and talk to a trusted adult.

Help for Parents

Child sexual abuse is a “hidden” crime. There is no “profile” of an abuser, but there are signs that you can be aware of. Child sexual abuse can happen regardless of age, race or income.

      • 1 of every 4 girls will be sexually assaulted before she is 18.
      • 1 of every 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before he is 18.
      • At least 80% of the time, children know the offenders, most often a trusted parent or caretaker.

Safe vs. Unsafe Touching
Child sexual abuse can take on many forms that range from verbal, non-physical abuse to forcible touching offenses. It can range from a single encounter by a stranger, to an occasional “confusing” relationship with someone they barely know, to years of ongoing abuse by a family member, to rape or exploitation.

By teaching body safety, you will not scare your child or make him or her afraid. You will be giving them the skills to stop unsafe touching. They will feel strong and in control knowing they can help and protect themselves.

Talking with your Children
You can begin teaching body safety rules as soon as they can understand. Don’t wait for them to ask questions or until after something has happened.

      • Talk about names for private body parts.
      • Let them know that you are open to share with them.
      • Play “what if” games.
      • Be aware of adults or older kids that spend time with your children.
      • Most touching is safe—some is not.
      • Its not their fault if someone sexually abuses them.
      • They should never keep secrets about touching.
      • It’s never too late to tell.
      • The have the right to say “NO”.
      • Don’t panic.
      • Believe your children.
      • Make a report.

Help Yourself
Being a parent is not easy and it is okay to get help. If you feel troubled, lonely, inadequate as a parent, unable to cope, depressed, or overwhelmed you can get help. If you sometimes physically hurt your children, feel confused about your sexual feelings toward your children, or if you were mistreated as a child and are now repeating your past—please call. You may call the Tennessee Parent Help line at 1-800-356-6767 or the Child Advocacy Center at 931-438-3233.

How to Report Abuse
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is mandated by law to investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. Immediately report your suspicions by calling:

Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline: 1-877-237-0004
You can reach the toll free number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You may also call:
Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department: 931-433-9821
Fayetteville City Police Department: 931-438-7771
Moore County Sheriff’s Department: 931-759-7323
Lewisburg Police Department: 931-359-4004
Marshall County Sheriff’s Department: 931-359-6122
Bedford County Sheriff’s Department: 931-684-3232
Shelbyville Police Department: 931-684-5811