Child Abuse Prevention Month
Every year, the Tennessee Department of Children's Services joins child welfare professionals across the U.S. in recognizing April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. All Tennesseans have a role to play in preventing child abuse, and DCS joins its partners across the state — including private providers, local and state agencies, non-profit organizations and houses of worship — to remind our communities and neighborhoods to help keep children safe.
One of the best strategies is supporting families before they reach a crisis. Across the state, DCS staff and our providers offer prevention and in-home services to support families. These include Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention programs and Resource Linkage staff who focus on families whose children are at risk of coming into state care. This page explores some of those resources and more.
Spread the word!
Join DCS in sharing important messages during Child Abuse Prevention Month. Our partner toolkit inlcludes pre-made social media messages and graphics you can use to spread the word. Together, we can amplify this important message in hopes of reaching as many Tennesseans as possible.
You can also share Governor Bill Lee's proclamation.
Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention -- commonly called "CBCAP" -- refers to specific types of child abuse prevention programs that exist in every U.S. state.
- support community-based efforts to develop, enhance and coordinate initiatives and activities to prevent child abuse and neglect.
- support the coordination of resources and activities to better strengthen and support families to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.
- foster understanding, appreciation and knowledge of diverse populations in order to effectively prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.
Child sexual abuse is a public health epidemic in America.
It's the most under-reported crime and the number one public health concern facing children in the United States. Child sexual abuse knows no geographic, gender, economic or racial boundaries.
BUT there are things people in every community in Tennessee can do to help protect children. If you are an adult, you can help protect children by Educating yourself, Responding Appropriately, & Taking Action.
- Educate Yourself
- Child sexual abuse happens in every community.
- 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused by age 18.
- 95% of the time the perpetrator is someone known and trusted by the family.
- There are often no outward signs of sexual abuse which is why it is so important to have conversations with the children in your life about their body.
- Respond Appropriately
- Learn the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse.
- Learn how to respond if a child comes to you for help.
- Sign up for “Stewards of Children” training to learn more about preventing child sexual abuse.
- Take Action
- Hold schools, churches, sports leagues and daycares accountable by asking them about their policies to keep children safe.
- Be a safe adult. Teach children to come to you for help if anyone makes them feel scared, confused or icky.
- In Tennessee, anyone who is concerned about the welfare of a child is required to report their concerns by calling 1-877-237-0004.
If we want to build strong brains in Tennessee, we have to be proactive about taking action to prevent child sexual abuse. It’s never too late to report and to start the healing process for a survivor.
Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services is aware that children and families across the state may need additional support during this time. As always, our priority is ensuring the safety, permanency and well-being of children by building strong, healthy and empowered families. You can help us achieve this goal by looking out for the children and families in your community. If you identify a family that may need assistance, reach out with a helping hand to link them to important resources found in this guide. By taking care of the children in our communities, together we can make a difference.
The 2021/2022 Prevention Resource Guide recognizes that there are actions we can take as a society and within communities, organizations, and families to address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. The child abuse prevention guide seeks to highlight the innovative ways that communities around the country are doing purposeful prevention work to help children and families thrive. The protective factors have always been central to the Resource Guide. A protective factors approach focuses on positive ways to engage families by emphasizing their strengths, in addition to identifying areas where they have room to grow with support. Focusing on protective factors helps children, youth, and families build resilience and contributes to positive outcomes. This guide was developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Administration for Children and Families.
Reporting child abuse isn't just the right thing to do, it's the law. In Tennessee, everyone is required by state law to report knowledge or suspicions of child abuse or neglect.
The Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline takes these reports 24/7, 365 days a year. The number 877-237-0004. You can also make or track a report online by clicking here. Call 911 if there is a life-threatening emergency.
Tennessee Landmarks Go Blue for Child Abuse Prevention Month
On the first day of April, several Tennessee landmarks heightened awareness of Child Abuse Prevention Month by lighting up blue, including these sites in Nashville:
- The State Capitol
- Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge
- Bicentennial Mall Amphitheater
- AT&T Building
- Adventure Science Center
- Bridgestone Arena
Others across the state:
- Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis
- Eiffel Tower, Paris
- Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga
- R.J. Corman Bridge, Clarksville