Experts: Child abuse must be treated

Robert Bradford, charged with Rape of a Child (Photo: Sevier County Jail)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Child sex abuse is a growing problem in Tennessee, and a child criminal psychologist who works with prosecutors in East Tennessee says both parents and children have to learn to admit what's happening.

Dr. Diana McCoy, says sexual abuse on children is difficult in a number of ways, including spotting it, and how children may deal with it personally. She says for the parents, they could be afraid as well and may feel like they've failed.

"There's no way to say one particular scenario as to what a child might think or feel. It's very individualistic, it depends upon the child," said McCoy. "So, why didn't you say so before? Because this is the child's world, this is the child's perspective. If I say anything, this person is going to make good his threat to kill my mom or my dog."
It's a big problem for Tennessee, last year there were 5,752 cases of sexual abuse. 3,554 those victims were children under 18. 2,934 were females under 18, 617 were boys.

McCoy says typically, boys and girls will deal with the problem differently, but it also could depend on who the abuse was from. It maybe more difficult to admit a relative or someone the child loves is doing the abuse.

"The feeling that she's done something wrong, That this can't be talked about, generally speaking it's better for most of us to at least feel like we have the opportunity to talk about things that bother us."

Dr. Diana McCoy says her area of expertise includes all psychological issues pertinent to criminal law including insanity, diminished capacity, competency to make a statement, competency to stand trial, and sentencing. She has worked extensively with child sexual abuse from the perspective of both victim and offender.

McCoy says she's seen many cases where an untreated child, has turned violent later in life as a result of anger and fear that's built up inside of them.

For more information about sexual abuse in children, visit the links below.

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