TREND Winter 2017/2018 - Page 40

Time to Address Child Sexual Abuse a by Rep. Jay Reedy Child Sexual Abuse is a difficult subject to discuss, however, it is time. One teacher organization, Professional Educators of Tennessee, spoke out on child sexual abuse after the disappearance of a 15-year-old student and her 50-year-old teacher. This issue is something that should concern all of us in the Tennessee General Assembly, in our communities and in our schools. The Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability has recently completed a review and analysis on this important topic with recommendations for the Tennessee State Board of Education and the Department of Education. Most research indicates that child sexual abuse is almost always a continuing process, and not limited to a single event. Child abuse is best described when someone deliberately harms a minor physically, psychologically, sexually, or by acts of neglect. Child sexual abuse is a type of child abuse that involves sexual activity with a minor. It is important to note that a child cannot consent to any manner of sexual activity at all. The frequency of child sexual abuse is problematic to determine because it is often not reported. It is understood by most experts who agree that the prevalence is far greater than what is reported to our authorities. In early 2016, USA Today published the results of a national investigation. Only seven states received an A; Tennessee received an F. We must do better in our state. The National Center for Victims of Crime released a few statistics on the Disclosure of Child Sexual Abuse: • Of the children victimized in 2011, thirteen percent had at least one victimization known to police while 46% had one known to school, police, or medical authorities. • 42% of school officials knew about victimization episodes compared to the 13% known to police and 2% known to medical professionals. • Most commonly, authorities knew about more serious victimizations such as sexual assault by a known adult (69%) or unspecified adult (76%). • The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs found that authorities were least likely to know about victimizations that peers were most likely to commit such as being