It takes a caring adult to make that first critical step to protect a child when abuse is suspected. Reports of suspected child sexual abuse or other severe abuse made to the Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) hotline or law enforcement are handled by the team of agencies headquartered at the Memphis CAC.
When you report suspected abuse or neglect, you may be initiating the first step in protecting a child from suffering the effects of trauma for a lifetime. Every Tennessee adult is required by law to report reasonable suspicions of child abuse or neglect. All reports are confidential. Click here for information on how to make a report in Tennessee and nearby states.
As soon as suspected abuse is reported, decisions are made on actions needed. In cases of immediate danger, law enforcement or child protective services staff are dispatched quickly to check on the welfare of the child.
In cases of suspected sexual or other severe abuse, the Shelby County Child Protection Investigation Team (CPIT) goes into action. CPIT meets every morning to discuss every incoming report of abuse. Together, they make informed decisions about critical next steps. The team includes 16 agencies, including the Memphis Child Advocacy Center. This collaboration of agencies is based on the national child advocacy center model.
Our forensic interviewers meet with children, at the request of investigators, so kids have a safe, neutral place to share what happened to them. Our interviewers talk with kids at their developmental level. They use a nationally recognized model of interviewing kids that avoids leading questions.
One of our goals is to minimize the number of times a child is interviewed. Interviews are observed by one or more investigators via closed circuit TV. If an investigator has a question not covered during the interview, he or she can call it in to the forensic interviewer. A video of the interview may be used in court, which helps reduce the stress on a child called to testify.
A huge wall of cubbies filled with new, cuddly teddy bears, awaits every child at the Memphis CAC. The child gets to select a bear for their very own. For kids who’ve been abused—usually by someone they trusted—the gift of a brand new teddy bear affirms their goodness. It provides them a choice they have control over. And it gives them comfort.
Each bear is donated by individuals and groups in the community. Faith groups, families, workplaces, and community organizations hold drives to collect bears and items from the current wish list. Each cubby is sponsored by a generous donor.
The Memphis Child Advocacy Center offers the best therapy available for kids who have been traumatized by child sexual or other severe abuse. Our compassionate, masters level therapists help children confront and resolve their trauma. Kids learn that the abuse wasn’t their fault. They develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Our therapists work with non-offending parents and caregivers, too. And for families facing other challenges, therapy is fortified by our advocacy program. Advocates help families find resources when struggling with housing issues, financial transitions, domestic violence, and other barriers.
Graduation is a celebration! And, it is a event worth rejoicing. Kids who graduate from therapy demonstrate significantly reduced signs of post-traumatic stress. They know they are strong and resilient--and are worthy of protection and love. They have a real chance at a bright future.
We want to be sure we’re doing the best work possible for the kids we serve. That includes evaluation of our program outcomes. Analysis by an outside evaluator shows that our therapy significantly reduces post-traumatic stress, behavioral acting out, and emotional stress. What’s more, families are more empowered to protect their children into the future.
Evaluation of our Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention and response training show that adults who get the training take significantly more action to protect the kids in their life.