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'Hearing one story fuels your passion' | Childhelp files legislation to rework abuse reporting in schools

The bill would create a single contact for abuse cases in each school and separate investigation records from school records.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — In a 2018 report, child abuse data shows Child Protective Services agencies received millions of reports involving more than 7,000,000 children.

"Hearing one of the children's stories that walk through our doors just fuels the passion," Childhelp's Eddie Smith said. 

Smith also said a lot of the data is reported at school. There, the agency found a need.

"We looked at how child abuse is investigated in schools and found there is no uniform policy even within our own county," he said. 

The new bill, which just made it out of the state House Judiciary Committee, has one goal — to help children.

"At the core what we're looking at is how we speed up helping every single child," Smith said. "This bill asks every single school to create a child abuse coordinator within the school. This will be the person who will be working with law enforcement."

That is really important.

"It doesn't force a child to constantly relive that abuse," Smith said. 

It also addresses access to records.

"We pulled any investigation out of their school records because we know many times the perpetrator is a family member and they have access to those records," Smith adds. 

RELATED: National grant given for advocates of children who experienced abuse or neglect

RELATED: 'Children live a lifetime before they come to school' | Teachers working to ease childhood trauma

Smith said at Childhelp alone, investigators are interviewing between six and eight kids a day. It's important to help as many children as possible, but the approach is also important.

"Even during the interview it's a therapeutic approach to help that student down that healing journey," he said.

The bill is now in the education committee and Smith said, hopefully, it will go all the way. 

"We want to try to eliminate that in Tennessee as much as possible, where we're getting every child the help they need as fast as humanly possible," he said.


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