Abuse, in all of its tragic forms, can be difficult to discuss. After all, it is often a challenging subject to bring to attention, and many would rather not converse on issues and thus tear open the wounds. In a family setting, abuse can become all the harder to combat — especially since some children are too young to vocalize an ongoing issue. Despite the ambiguity of some cases, Tennessee has a wide range of resources one can look to during times of need.
An article in The Tennesseean discussed the many ways that the threshold of abuse can be tricky to define, especially since many stand firm in their beliefs regarding physical punishment in the household. However, corporal punishment can quickly become abuse, and countless children are suffering in silence. Some Tennessee parents are outraged at the system’s treatment of punishment cases in the past, including the father of a 6-year-old boy who suffered belt whippings from his mother’s boyfriend, which ultimately resulted in bruises. No repercussions occurred, but The Tennesseean adds that corporal punishment is legal in the state. While this is a shock to many, it creates additional difficulties in that many do not know where to draw the line.
One of the Tennessee Children’s Cabinet’s programs, KidCentral TN, makes resources readily available for parents by defining child abuse in its entirety. To paraphrase Tennessee’s law on abuse, an incident constitutes as abuse when a person under age eighteen is suffering, has sustained or is in danger of suffering from a wound, injury, physical or mental condition caused by neglect or actions of a parent, relative or other person of authority. One frightening aspect of abuse is that it can remain silent — abuse can be emotional, verbal or sexual, as well as physical. Many outsiders of situations may assume they have no power to make change, but KidCentral makes clear that anyone who suspects abuse must report cases. KidCentral also assures the public that the sooner professionals can address a case of abuse, the sooner a child can get back to a normal and healthy life.