Rutherford County's Child Protective Investigative Team was well represented at the One With Courage press conference Thursday at the state Capitol at the Old Supreme Court Chambers.
One with Courage is a national media campaign to encourage children to report child sexual abuse to a trusted adult and to encourage adults to report child abuse to the authorities. This was a successful media campaign in Texas where they experienced an increase in child abuse reporting.
The Rutherford County Department of Children's Services was represented by Team Coordinator Deirdre C. Lackey, Child Protective Services Team Leader Christina Moody and Case Manager Supervisor Carrie Niederhauser.
Law enforcement was well represented at the event with Assistant Chief Roy Fields, Detective Jennifer West, and Detective Ava Radley representing Murfreesboro Police Department. Rutherford County Sheriff's Office was represented by Sgt. Mickey McCullough and La Vergne Police Department was represented by Lt. Cindy Murphy, Lt. Michael Campbell and Detective Konrad Kaul.
Nonprofit agencies were represented by Kim Rush from the Rutherford County Guidance Center, Sue Fort White and Jill Howlett from Our Kids, and Jennifer Gamble, LaToya Nelson, Jessica Wauchek and Sharon De Boer from the Child Advocacy Center. Greg Lyles represented Murfreesboro City Schools at the event.
It is estimated that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18. Only one in 10 child sexual abuse victims report the abuse. According to the American Medical Association, child sexual abuse is a "silent epidemic" that is plaguing children across our nation and here in Rutherford County.
The Tennessee Chapter of Children's Advocacy Centers is working with the Nashville PR firm of McNeely, Pigott, and Fox to replicate the One With Courage media campaign inTennessee.
Executive Director Sharon De Boer of the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford and CannonCountiessaid children report child sexual abuse to adults in their own way.
"They say things like, 'I don't want to hug my uncle' or 'Please pick me up on time. I don't like to be alone with my ball coach' or 'Mommy's new boyfriend is mean to me.' As parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles we do not understand that those words are code for 'I am being sexually abused,'" De Boer said.
"It is critical that we pay attention, listen to our children, and ask questions," De Boer said. "In their own way children are trying to tell us about sexual abuse. We have a responsibility to our children to report suspected abuse to the Department of Children's Services. Children are counting on us to protect them."
Visit the One With Courage website at www.tncac.org/owc <http://www.tncac.org/owc> to learn the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse, short and long term emotional and physical consequences such as mood swings, erratic behavior, distrust of adults, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress symptoms, substance abuse, suicide, and other indicators.
To report suspected child abuse call the Department of Children's Services at 1-877-237-0004. To learn more about how you can get involved contact theChildAdvocacyCenter at (615) 867-9000.