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About Child Abuse

What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional, or it can be any form of neglect. It is further defined as any act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk or serious harm to any person under the age of 18.

  • One in four children is abused. Of those, four out of five go unreported.
  • Of all the reported child abuse cases in Tennessee, 25% are right here in Shelby County.
  • 85% of all incarcerated adults were abused or neglected as children.
  • 13% of all violence is linked to child abuse.
  • An estimated 49,223 children in the state of Tennessee were victims of abuse and neglect in 2010.
  • In 2012 in Shelby County alone, there are approximately 650 reports of child abuse/neglect each month, and police respond to 850+ reports of domestic violence each month.
  • In over 80% of these domestic violence reports, children are in the home and have witnessed violence, but less than 10% have ever received services.
  • In 2012 in Shelby County, 11 children we killed in child abuse/domestic violence situations and there were 30 adult domestic violence homicides. 
  • The highest victimization rate was for children aged 0-3. 
  • Without early  and appropriate intervention, it is estimated that over 75% of these children will repeat the cycle by becoming the abuser or the victim.
  • It is estimated that only 1/5 of the actual cases of child abuse and domestic violence are ever even reported.
  • Children who have been abused and neglected, as they get older, are more likely to perform poorly in school; to commit crimes, and experience emotional problems, sexual problems and alcohol/substance abuse. 

How to Report Abuse?

A Prevent Child Abuse America survey found that when observing an act of abuse or neglect, over half of the general public and almost two-thirds of all parents would take some action to reduce the child's risk of further harm. Over half of the individuals electing not to intervene in these cases were uncertain as to what action to take.

Tennessee law, TCA 37-1-403(i) mandates that all persons suspecting a case of child abuse or neglect must make a report. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is mandated by law to investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect.

Immediately report your suspicions by calling:

Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline 877.237.0004
DeSoto County, Mississippi              662.429.1480
Mississippi Intrastate                       800.222.8000
Arkansas Intrastate                         800.482.5964



When you call, it is helpful to provide the following:

    Name, age and address of the child
    Name and address of the parent(s) or guardian(s)  
    Nature of abuse
    Identity of offender



To report an incident to the police:

Bartlett             901.385.5555
Collierville         901.853.4777
Germantown     901.754.7222
Memphis           901.528.2222
Millington          901.872.3333
Shelby County    901.495.1180    


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