|This is the seventh of a series of stories about the Sheriff’s Citizens Academy at Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office. The academy is for citizens interested in learning more about the sheriff’s office. The academy is free and lasts 16 weeks. The next class starts in January. For more information, contact Deputy Greg Dotson at 615-904-3033.
One in four girls and one in seven boys are sexually abused by age 13, and about 90 percent of the abusers are known to the child, according to a detective with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.
Possible signs a child has been sexually abused include playing out sexual contact, bleeding and difficulty in walking or sitting, said Detective D.J. Jackson of the Criminal Investigation Division’s Family Crimes Unit.
Parents can help prevent sexual assaults by discussing good and bad touches with children and by keeping an open relationship with their child.
Jackson said if the child becomes a victim, parents should “make sure the child knows they didn’t do anything wrong.”
Jackson and Assistant District Attorney Laural Hemenway discussed child abuse and neglect and child sexual abuse during a Sheriff’s Citizens Academy class.
Under state law, anyone who suspects a child is being abused is required to notify the state Department of Children’s Services.
“It’s better to let us look at the case rather than not and assume everything’s OK,” Jackson said, adding callers may remain anonymous. “People can be charged if they know about the abuse but don’t report it.”
Hemenway said parents can teach children how to avoid being a victim by the following ways:
· Teach children to maintain a healthy distance from strangers. Be alert when personal space is entered.
· Be aware of surroundings.
· Know children’s friends, their parents and where they live.
· Children have no right to privacy. Parents should check their e-mail, Facebook and text messages.