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Child sex abuse numbers in Shelby County are double the national rate. Here's how one Memphis group is fighting back

The Memphis Child Advocacy Center's goal is to create a network of adults to look out for the safety of children in all types of settings.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Child Advocacy Center is hosting a free virtual workshop to talk about child sex abuse Wednesday, June 7, 2023, with a second scheduled for June 17.

According to the Association of American Pediatrics, one in three girls, and one in 20 boys will experience sexual abuse or sexual assault by the time they turn 17-years-old.

The center’s Stewards of Children training teaches adults the signs to look for, how to talk to children and have tough conversations with them, and more.

Unfortunately, child sexual abuse can happen anywhere, in the most common settings, whether it be church, school, daycare, or home, so it is important to be on high alert. 

The numbers here in Shelby County are alarming. The Memphis Child Advocacy Center Prevention Director Kris Crim said they are double the national rate.

Nationally one in 10 children will be a victim of child abuse before they reach the age of 18, which breaks down to about 400,000 children born in the country, who will experience child sexual abuse before adulthood.

Crim said in Shelby County, that number is two in 10 children.

In Tennessee and Mississippi, adults are Mandated Reporters, meaning anyone who is 18 or older not only has a moral obligation but a legal obligation to report any sexual activity concerning a child.

The goal of the training is to create a network of adults to look out for the safety of children in all types of settings.

Crim said it is an adult’s responsibility to protect a child.

“One of the things we like to remind folks is child sexual abuse happens in all different parts of our community. So, child sexual abuse is by no means just an inner-city issue,” Crim stated. “It knows no boundaries, so we have to be prepared. One of the things I like to remind our participants is in my mind there’s a difference between living in fear and being informed.”

Jill Shanker, who has attended multiple sessions and is now a volunteer, said the training has changed her family for the better.

“For example... use the right names for body parts. We would talk a lot about that with our kids about things that are okay to tell adults ‘no’ ... so many times our kids grow up and you have to ‘yes’ to an adult,” Shanker said. “Well no, this is your body and it was a way to empower our kids from a young age.”

To date, Memphis Child Advocacy Center has trained nearly 29,000 adults.

Twice a month they offer these two-and-a-half-hour-long sessions that anyone can attend, virtually. Wednesday’s session is from 1 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.; however, if you cannot make that session, they have another one on June 17th from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.

All you need to do is preregister here.

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