DCS child abuse registry is now public

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- There's an easier way to learn the names of people responsible for child abuse or neglect in your area.

Some people said the way the state is going about it is unfair.

WREG found out how and why the Tennessee Department of Children's Services is sharing the names of these people online even if they weren't prosecuted.

Some were shocked to learn The Department of Children's Services abuse registry is now public.

DCS started sharing that online in July.

That applied to anyone believed to have something to do with child abuse or neglect, even if they weren't prosecuted.

Keith Armstrong said that's a risky move.

"I do think that will raise some type of controversy," he said.

DCS said the department is making the move after discovering a law that dates back to 1987.

"It requires state agencies to share names of substantiated abusers with the health department, DCS has long maintained its own database, we've maintained our own internal registry and we have 154,000 names," said Rob Johnson with DCS out of Nashville.

Armstrong said he's afraid this will ruin someone's reputation who may be innocent.

"To put somebody in that particular category and put their name out in the public before they're accused in the court of the law, then it's like a witch hunt because they could actually be innocent," he said.

Others believed it's the right thing to do

"People do have the right for a file review, they have the right before a hearing administrative law judge and if they wish to appeal those findings to a chancery court they can do so," he said.

DCS said the Department of Health will operate it.

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