Children Are Counting On Us To Protect Them: De Boer

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WOODBURY - Cannon County was well represented at the One With Courage Press Conference Thursday, March 8 at the Capitol in the Old Supreme Court Chambers.

Cannon County was represented at the press conference by WBRY Owner Doug Combs, Guidance Center Executive Director Kim Rush, Cannon County Child Advocacy Center Director Sharon De Boer and Forensic Interviewer LaToya Nelson.

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 ten 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.

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 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 in Tennessee.

Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Sharon De Boer said 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. In their own way children are trying to tell us about sexual abuse," De Boer said. "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 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 the Cannon County Child Advocacy Center at (615) 563-9915.
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