SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. -- There have been three child rape cases reported within days in Shelby County, and thousands within the past few months.
"90 percent of the time the abuser is someone that the child knows. 60 percent, it's someone within the family's circle," said Kris Crim with the Memphis Child Advocacy Center.
Crim said many kids will keep the abuse a secret, because they feel confused or scared.
It's why he's been teaching adults about abuse through Stewards of Children program.
The course talks about what to look for.
"Often physical signs are not present. Sometimes they are. Often times they are not. We have to be in tune with emotional behavior. Things that may be happening like too perfect behavior or children acting out in certain ways," he said.
Also, the program addresses conversations to have with children.
"Teaching children that no can be an appropriate response to adults if there's an uncomfortable touch or something that makes them feel uncomfortable," said Crim.
He said studies show one in five children in Shelby County are sexually abused by their 18th birthday. That's double the national average.
"We know that over 80 percent of sexual abuse occurs in isolated one-on-one situations," he said.
Child advocates said predators may not have a prior record or be listed on a sex offender registry.
They can come off as warm and loving to the outside world. It's why they get away with the horrific acts.
It's important to listen to your gut and talk to your child if something just doesn't feel right.
If you suspect abuse, call the Tennessee Child Abuse hotline at 1-877-237-0004. You can remain anonymous, and you don't have to know all the facts.
If you don't report abuse, you can face criminal charges in Mississippi and Tennessee.
For more information about the Stewards for Children program, check out the Child Advocacy Center's open enrollment sessions:
- March 7, 1-3:30 p.m., Community Foundation office, 1900 Union Ave.
- March 17, 9-11:30 a.m., Memphis Child Advocacy Center, 1085 Poplar Ave,
- April 4, 1-3:30 p.m., Community Foundation
- April 21, 9-11:30 a.m., Memphis Child Advocacy Center
- April 30, 1-3:30 p.m., Community Foundation
Pre-registration is required. Contact Keita Cooley at 888-4362 or firstname.lastname@example.org.