Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

April 25, 2013

Fighting the good fight

Cumberland comes together to honor those affected by child abuse

CROSSVILLE — There were 1,325 victims of child abuse in Cumberland County in 2012. At least, that's what was reported.

Advocates in the effort to end child abuse worry there could be even more children suffering from abuse or neglect, and countless more at risk for becoming abused.

"You could likely double that number for those cases not reported," said Denise Melton, director of the Cumberland Children's Center House of Hope, during the annual Cumberland County Blue Ribbon Ceremony for the prevention of child abuse.

Child abuse can include physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or failing to provide for a child's basic needs, such as food, water and shelter, or taking care of educational needs.

If you suspect a child is being harmed, reporting those suspicions can help protect the child and get help for the family. Anyone can report suspicions of child abuse and, in fact, Tennessee law requires anyone who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect a child has been abused, neglected or sexually abused to report that to the Department of Children's Services or law enforcement. A report can be made to the statewide DCS Central Intake hotline by phone, fax, letter or online. The toll-free hotline number is 1-877-54ABUSE. The website is reportabuse.state.tn.us.

In addition, those suspecting a child may be at risk for abuse are encouraged to contact the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department's DEAR Team, which works to aid Drug Endangered and At-Risk children in the community.

The DEAR Team works to increase communication between law enforcement and the Department of Children's Services, as well as the school system, medical community and others in the community, to identify children and families and ensure a child doesn't slip through the holes in the safety net.

Deputy District Attorney Gary McKenzie shared a case that started the communication between law enforcement and DCS, sharing the tragic story of Hope Manning, a five-year-old girl who died from injuries she received at the hands of her mother's live-in boyfriend in 2002.

"After that case, we asked ourselves how that could have been prevented," he said said. "It haunts many of us to this day."

The sheriff's department and DCS began meeting weekly to communicate more about cases and work together.

Several years ago, the state held conferences and urged adoption of protocols and procedures that helped keep stakeholders in the loop on cases of child abuse and neglect. Cumberland County was the first and only county to adopt those protocols.

"Cumberland County was already ahead of the game," said William Benson, assistant director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's drug investigation division.

"Often, in law enforcement, we think our job is to catch the bad guy, but the first word [in the motto Protect and Serve] is protect. We need to protect the good guy, and so many times, that's children."

That includes keeping a sharp eye when on the scene of an arrest. In Colorado, studies found 70 percent of children identified as drug endangered were not on the scene of an arrest. But Benson said investigators could keep a look out for toys, high chairs, bottles or evidence of children in a home.

In Cumberland County, if that evidence were found, a DEAR Team officer would be dispatched to investigate from that aspect and work to ensure the children were connected to the Department of Children's Services and other community resources, as needed.

Cumberland County will also become a testing ground for communications software that would help inform DCS of felony drug arrests. Cumberland County was one of five counties in the nation selected to receive the DECSYS software.

"We'll start it here and see how it works and try to expand it across the judicial district and the state," Benson said.

Cumberland County is also sharing its DEAR Team training with other counties in the state, hosting a training this past week that not only included participants from Cumberland County, but from eight other counties, as well.

"This needs specific training has been spearheaded by Sheriff Burgess," Benson explained.

Training included interrogation and interviewing, crime scene photography, effects of drug exposure in the womb and more.

Benson said the first time he met the DCS caseworker in Cumberland County, he thought he was an employee of the Sheriff's Department.

"They were working so closely together," Benson said. "That's what is needed. All stakeholders want to work together. And this program brings the whole stakeholder community together."

Chad Norris, special investigator with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department, said Sunday, "Many times, in law enforcement, we think our job is just to lock people up. This goes further and provides help to families that may be struggling."

That help can take a variety of forms, including connecting parents to agencies that can provide counseling help, assistance with job search or upgrading job skills or help with basic needs. Parent education, home visitation and parent support groups often provide the support parents need to learn to parent effectively and safely.

Also during the Blue Ribbon Ceremony, the community paid tribute to Joyce Ferry, of Lake Tansi, who passed away Oct. 22.

Ferry had been involved in community work through the Lake Tansi Exchange Club, serving as president twice, and was a state director of the National Exchange Club. The Exchange Club, through its support of the Holland J. Stephens Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and the national organization, works to prevent child abuse in communities through parent education, home visitation and community education programs.

Her husband, Mike Ferry, was presented a plaque in her honor prior to those present releasing blue balloons to represent children who were victims of child abuse in Cumberland County in the preceding year.

Afterwards, the community was invited to have lunch and enjoy a variety of educational and fun booths for children and adults.

1
Text Only
Area News
  • Panel recommends using third-party billing for old EMS bills

    The budget committee approved hiring the same third party billing company to help go through older EMS ambulance service bills to resubmit them to help the EMS department get caught up with billing collections.

    April 19, 2014

  • Sales tax collections down

    Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock reported to the Cumberland County Budget Committee that local option sales tax collections have fallen below budgeted projections for the 2013-'14 fiscal year.

    April 19, 2014

  • Motion to toss evidence in burglary denied

    A defense motion to have evidence seized by deputies searching for a man who fled warrant service thrown out failed when deputies testified they had oral permission from the defendant's son to search the residence the father and son share.

    April 18, 2014

  • donate life.jpg Organ donation gives man new lease on life

    Travis Hodges has a new lease on life, thanks to a selfless gift a young father made the year before.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fireworks, sign change get council OK

    While the April Crossville City Council meeting was generally a calm one, there were some fireworks on the agenda.

    April 18, 2014

  • quackers at the library.jpg Spring jamboree

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Suspect charged in Sportsman Club break-in

    A Crossville man has been arrested and charged in connection with the burglary of a shooting club's building in the county that occurred last week, according to arrest reports.

    April 17, 2014

  • Panel discusses auditing hotel/motel tax collections

    Commissioners on the budget committee discussed the possibility of auditing hotels and motels in the county regarding the collection of hotel/motel tax collection figures being down.

    April 17, 2014

  • Repent burglar must serve time

    Some defendants cry, because they get caught, and others are tearful with remorse. No one in the courtroom doubted Robert Killeen's sincerity when he apologized to his victim, his loved ones and supporters for committing crimes against an elderly widow, stealing the money her late husband left her.

    April 17, 2014

  • Panel OKs budget amendments

    The Cumberland County Budget Committee approved a $134,506 budget amendment for the Cumberland County Solid Waste Department in order to accept a grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for enhanced waste oil collection.

    April 16, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice