Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Happening Now

All 14 UC Counties Above State Average In Abuse & Neglect

A report from the Department of Child Services revealed that all 14 Upper Cumberland counties rank higher than the state average in abuse and neglect in the household.

Kristi Paling is Upper Cumberland Coordinator for The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. Paling said these numbers have been trending upward. She said many of the removals and custody cases across the Upper Cumberland are linked to drug abuse.

“That leads to trauma,” Paling said. “And we know that trauma has lifelong effects on children. Not only for the family unit, but for the individual child. If we think about it, just the removal of the child is very traumatic for whatever reason they’re being removed for. So, it has lasting effects.”

Paling said without guidance, the unresolved trauma often caused by drug use in a child’s home frequently results in the child continuing the cycle of drug abuse. She said according to the data, these numbers are climbing.

“During the pandemic, kids weren’t in school, so we didn’t have a lot of eyes on kids,” Paling said. “So I think that maybe there’s an uptick after the Covid numbers that children are back in school. Mandated reporters are sending in referrals.”

Paling said there is a slew of Upper Cumberland-based agencies working to combat this. She said UCDD affiliates like Empower Upper Cumberland are among the abundant prevention coalitions working tirelessly to get these numbers under control in the region. She also said the new fatherhood program getting off the ground through the UCHRA is bound to make a difference.

“How do we build protective factors in the community and in families and in the school system so that it also builds resiliency in these kids,” Paling said. “Because, you know, every child will receive bumps along the way, but how do we help them navigate those bumps and how do we help support them.”

She said early childhood education is key. She said the Upper Cumberland continues to focus on ways to support young children and provide them the resources they need to avoid long-term effects of neglect and abuse if those are things that they are being subjected to in the home.

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