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The mission of the Child Advocacy Center is to serve victims of child abuse, child sexual abuse, and drug endangered children along with their non-offending parents and family members. The Center works as a multidisciplinary team with Department of Children’s Services, law enforcement, mental health counselors, and the District Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute child abuse cases and help children and their families heal from the trauma and victimization of the abuse.
In the last 13 years, the Child Protective Investigative Team has worked over 9,000 child abuse cases and assisted over 12,500 individuals in Rutherford and Cannon Counties.
The Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County, Inc. is a non-profit agency whose primary purpose is to reach out to our community’s youngest crime victims. The Center provides a safe, child friendly location where children suspected of being victims of child abuse, child sexual abuse, and drug endangered children are interviewed by the multidisciplinary team of professionals in connection with the crime.
The organization provides the coordination of cases for the Child Protective Investigative Team meetings to facilitate the forward progress of each child’s case. Meetings are held monthly for the team to assess and follow-up on the developments in each case. These team meetings ensure that no child’s case will be overlooked.
The following program services are provided free of charge to child abuse victims, child sexual abuse victims, drug endangered children, and their non-offending parents and grandparents:
- Forensic interviews of child victims
- Crisis intervention counseling
- Case management and referrals to community resources
- Crisis telephone line
- Court advocacy services
- Home visits for drug endangered children
- Child sexual abuse children’s groups
- Non-offending parents support group for parents of child sexual abuse victims
- Coordination of services to victims.
Darkness to Light
In the fall of 2012, the Child Advocacy Center began implementing Darkness to Light, a new nationwide initiative to train adults how to protect their children from child sexual abuse. Executive Director Sharon De Boer was trained in September 2012. Ryan Wallace was hired as the part-time Community Education Coordinator for the Darkness to Light Project in May 13, 2013. This position is budgeted to be a full-time position in July 2013. Wallace was trained as a Darkness to Light facilitator in June 11, 2013. In June 2013, the Center trained 14 professionals to be authorized Darkness to Light facilitators. In fiscal year 2013, 1,025 adults were trained, including Murfreesboro City Schools, Murfreesboro Police Department, Nurses for Newborns, Boys and Girls Club, and the Domestic Violence Program.
Experts estimate that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. We have taught children to protect themselves from child sexual abuse, but that has not worked. 90% of victims never report the abuse. This means that in school classrooms, daycares, churches, Sunday schools, sports teams, choirs, marching bands, cheerleading squads, dance teams, and homes--everywhere you see children in our community, there are boys and girls who are silently bearing the burden of child sexual abuse alone.
There are lots of reasons why adults do not adequately protect children from child sexual abuse, but the main reason is that they do not know how. Parents and grandparents are unaware of the signs of child sexual abuse and the steps they can take to protect their children. The Child Advocacy Center, in collaboration with the Rutherford County Coalition Against Child Abuse, set a goal train 10,500 adults in the next 3-5 years. This is 5% of the adult population in Rutherford and Cannon Counties