NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Child sex abuse is on the rise. Unfortunately, many of the cases involved people in positions of authority. People who are trusted by victims and their families.

Child advocates explained protecting you child starts with educating them and speaking to them about these crimes happening in schools

Deanna Darden-Carroll every day comforts families affected by sexual abuse at the Davis House Child Advocacy Center. She can’t help but apply what she has learned to her personal life too. “I’m telling you, I parent differently because of this job.”

There’s been no shortage of new reports of school employees preying on students.

“I think a big misconception when it comes to teachers and coaches and school staff, is that if they are an employee of a school, they must be safe.” She continued, “Passing a background check just means that they have never been criminally charged.”

While the majority of educators are there for all the right reasons, Darden-Carroll explained you must teach your child about this silent epidemic.

“I didn’t want to tell my five, or six, or seven-year-old that there are people in the world that can hurt them. But, the reality is that there are those people, and it’s my job to keep him safe.”

For young children, the center suggested starting with using proper terminology for body parts. If a child discloses abuse by using a cute nickname, then the admission may be missed by someone who doesn’t understand what the child is saying.

Next the center said to empower your children to speak up. “It’s so important for children to be given permission to tell an adult, ‘no.’ That if it doesn’t feel okay to them. That they don’t have to do it.”

That’s why forcing your children to show affection towards an adult is not recommended. “Forcing a child to give hugs or give kisses to somebody creates confusion for them,” explained Darden-Carroll.

One in four girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused by age 18. The numbers are probably even greater because child sexual abuse is one of the most under-reported crimes.

“Another misconception is – my child will tell me. I’ll know I’ll be able to figure it out,” she said. “And that’s not always the case.”

Offenders use different strategies to keep their victims from speaking up. So, having ongoing conversations will help children prepare a plan if something does happen to them.

Darden-Carroll said you can ask, “Has anyone touched you in the places they’re not supposed to touch.? Has anyone asked to touch you there? Has anyone asked you to touch them there? Has anyone taken photographs or asked?”

She added, “Then go through – What would happen? What would you do if someone did ask you that?”

Always remind your children that you are there to support them if something happens.

“You let them know, it will never ever be their fault. I will believe you and that it doesn’t matter who the person is, even if I love them, I love you more.”


People in positions of authority are preying on Tennessee children. News 2 investigates the disturbing trend and shares important information that parents need to know in our special reports Position of Authority.