DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Dickson County Sheriff’s Office says they investigate more than 100 cases each year for child sexual abuse.
“We’ve seen all kinds of different things, things most people wouldn’t imagine or think of,” Detective Sarah McCartney said.
But the majority of cases, it’s believed, go unreported. The Children’s Advocacy Center says 90% of victims will never tell their story.
“It’s a bigger problem than what we even know because I believe what’s reported is only a small fraction of what’s actually happening,” McCartney said.
McCartney said it’s common that the child knows their abuser, and most of the time it’s someone within or close to the family.
“The perpetrator not only grooms the child, but they groom the whole family to make them think they’re a person that would never do anything like this,” McCartney said.
The grooming process, McCartney said, can take months to years. The perpetrator makes the children feel that they will be in trouble if they come forward and tell another adult.
“Younger children, it’s harder for them to tell lies, I think so when they’re asked the questions, they just tell the truth. And they don’t really know the difference. I’ve seen older kids sometimes, they still even though they want to tell, they still want to protect their abuser,” McCartney said.
The CAC offers free trauma-focused therapy for children that are removed from those situations. McCartney said it’s her top priority to investigate those cases fully and make sure the children involved are protected.
“It just depends on how supportive the non-offending family member is to the child, sometimes they’re very supportive to the child and sometimes they’re not it just depends. But it really puts a strain on the whole family dynamic,” McCartney said.
To report cases, people can remain anonymous, but it’s important that if you see something, to say something.
News 2 investigates the alarming crime trend now coming to light in Middle Tennessee after the COVID-19 pandemic. In a special report, Darkest Secret, learn more about the fight to stop child pornography and what it truly entails – Click here for our special reports.