Rutherford County Sheriff's Detective Andrea Knox reacts and investigates when a child has been sexually abused.
Instead of just reacting, Detective Knox now prevents child sexual abuse by teaching adults the Darkness to Light program sponsored by the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. Since children cannot be responsible for sexual advances by an adult, D2L website states the program instructs adults to "prevent, recognize and react responsible to child sexual abuse."
"Sexual abuse is such a heinous crime," Detective Knox said. "It's done in the dark behind closed doors."
To bring awareness, the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office joins other Rutherford and Cannon County agencies and the Women's World Summit Foundation's "19 Days of Activism for the Prevention of Abuse and Violence Against Children and Youth."
"I'm just passionate about protecting children," Detective Knox said. "As one person, there's only so much I can do to get the message out to protect children who are vulnerable. If parents, caregivers and teachers are made aware of the warning signs, they could more easily recognize a child who has been sexually abused."
Detective Knox particularly warns about the grooming process, defined as behaviors a potential abuser will use to test a potential victim. The potential abuser will see how far the child can be pushed to comply with the wants, wishes and desires of the abuser.
"It's building a relationship of trust but the underlying motive is deviate sexual behavior that can lead to a child being abused," Detective Knox said as she shook her head and tears formed in her eyes. "It hurts."
Some signs of abused children include:
- Changing their personality.
- Wearing additional clothes to conceal their body.
- Adopting different mannerisms.
Detective Knox said parents and any adult who supervises, works with or bears responsibility for children should attend the D2L training. They will learn ways to protect themselves and protect the child.
For example, tutors should keep doors open when working with children. Adults working with children should use their voice to praise children, not their hands.
During the D2L classes, many adults re-live the personal accounts of themselves or friends and want to tell their story. Many adults want to know how to respond when a child tells them they have a secret and don't want to tell.
Adults should tell the child to confide the secret to get something done. State law mandates calling the Department of Children's Service at 217-8900 about any suspected child abuses. The call may be anonymous.
Public information officer
Rutherford County Sheriff's Office