Childhelp seeks help battling child abuse

Tom KingFarragut

We know child abuse happens. Far too often. Kids die. Many others are scarred for life.

This is a crime and a serious social issue that tugs at your heartstrings. Tiny babies and little kids are beaten and sexually abused. It happens more than we know. Many die … here and elsewhere. On average, 50 children die each day in our country due to child abuse.

We always ask ourselves what someone asked Teresa Goddard: “How could a parent do these things to their own child or children?”

Teresa Goddard holds a weighted therapy bear children get to snuggle with and take home.

Here is how Goddard answered: “That’s the big question, without a doubt. A lot of it is caused by drug abuse and alcohol abuse. The parents a lot of times are caught up in a cycle of abuse – they were abused as children, so they abuse their children. Mental health is also a factor here.”

Goddard is the director of program advancement for Childhelp Tennessee and recently spoke to and answered lots of questions from members of the Rotary Cub of Farragut – during and after the meeting. She was introduced by Farragut Rotarian Val Privett, a member of the Childhelp Tennessee board of directors.

Goddard said that anyone can report a suspected child-abuse situation. “It does not have to be a family member. If you know that child abuse is going on in a home, please tell someone. Call 911. Call our office. Tell somebody!”

Goddard shared that approximately 60 percent of the cases they handle are sexual abuse, followed by physical abuse and emotional abuse. And 74 percent of the children they see are under the age of 12 – 41 percent are 6 and under, and 33 percent are 7 to 12 years old. They also work with the FBI, TBI and Homeland Security on children caught up in human trafficking.

It’s a bigger and more expensive job than we know. Check out these statistics from their 2017 fiscal year:

  • 841 youth received forensic interviews
  • 77 percent of forensic interviews were completed on-site
  • 1,339 youth received services
  • 295 youth received medical exam/treatment and counseling therapy

Goddard said the annual budget for their advocacy center is $750,000 and also $750,000 for their foster care program. They have a staff of eight. Money from Knoxville and Knox County accounts for only 2-3 percent of the budget. State and federal monies provide between 20-25 percent of the budget. The rest comes from grants, United Way, fundraisers and donations.

“Our job is not an easy one, and it’s an expensive job,” she said.

Childhelp’s roots date back to 1959, and it came to Knoxville in 1994.

“Child abuse is something people do not want to discuss or know about, but on average 50 children a day in the United States die due to child abuse,” she said. “Most of the families here are low on the socioeconomic scale, but it happens in middle-class and wealthy families as well. Don’t think it doesn’t. And I mean right here where we all live.”

A major need Childhelp has is for foster families. Last year they had 72 foster homes, and they are always looking for people interested in foster care. Today they have 37 sibling groups where children from the same family have been adopted.

Childhelp has a pair of major fundraisers coming up: Oysterfest, 6-10 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at the World’s Fair Park Amphitheater; and the 8th annual Pints & Putts golf tournament at Egwani Farms on Friday, Sept. 13.

You can learn more about Childhelp Tennessee plus sponsorship needs by calling Goddard at 865-637-1753, or you can email her.

If you’re interested in exploring membership in Farragut Rotary, drop me an email. We meet each Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. at Fox Den Country Club.

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