Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson was joined by representatives from Williamson County CASA and the Davis House Child Advocacy Center this week to sign a proclamation recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Davis House Executive Director Marcus Stamps said the center served 510 cases of child abuse last year with 363 cases in Williamson County.
Meanwhile, Marianne Schroer, executive director of Williamson County Court Appointed Special Advocates, said the number of cases CASA handles has doubled over the past six years.
Stamps gave a few tips to help combat child abuse and come to the aid of those children who need it.
“Citizens can learn the signs and symptoms of all kinds of abuse and neglect,” he said. “They can take training courses and be willing to talk about the issue and not sweep it under the rug.
"Most importantly, believe children when they tell you something. Statistics show that children very rarely lie about these things.”
Davis House Director of Victim Services Carolyn Evans said building a safe environment of open communication with your children is key in identifying abuse.
“Communicate with your child,” she said. “Always keep the lines of communication open. Pay attention to the little things and establish trust. An open communicative relationship with teachers, parents and adults fostered in trust, makes it easier for a child to disclose if abuse has occurred.”
However, Evans shared many teenagers who have experienced abuse will first tell their peers instead of an adult. In those cases, it’s important for all children to understand it’s important to tell an adult when a friend has been harmed.
“There needs to be training for parents and teens so that they know how to respond,” Evans said.
Anderson said it’s important to educate the community about child abuse.
“I know these organizations have been trying to raise awareness and get that educational piece out into the community,” he said. “Organizations like these make this community a better place to work, live and go to church.
"Bringing awareness to this issue helps citizens to become aware of how to stop the cycle of abuse.”
To report a case of suspected abuse, call the Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline at 877-237-0004, contact law enforcement or call 911.