COVINGTON, TN (WMC-TV) - With three arrests in just three weeks, the Tipton County Sheriff's Department is concerned about the number of child sex abuse cases deputies are investigating.
"In 2007, we had 20 of those cases that fit that criteria," Sheriff's Department Chief Donna Turner said Wednesday. "As of the last day of August of 2008, we have had 33."
Department officials say cases involving child rape, abuse, and sodomy are up sixty-five percent from last year. In many of these cases, a family member is responsible.
"A lot of times, it's behind closed doors," Turner said. "Sometimes that is one thing that it's not - a stranger incident."
At the Carl Perkins Child Abuse Center, advocates like Bethany Kirby say the numbers are up because children are reporting the incidents more.
"It's great that children are taking a stand and families are taking a stand to say that 'I'm not going to let you do this to me anymore,'" Kirby said.
The Carl Perkins Child Abuse Center investigates child abuse cases from five counties in West Tennessee. Kirby touts it as a place where children and non-offending parents can visit for treatment and therapy.
"We come to the child so that child tells their story one time," Kirby said.
Officials say young victims will often times exhibit unusual behavior or give unusual information if something's happening. It's that unusual behavior they are on the lookout for.
"If you harm a child, you're going to pay the consequence," Kirby said.
If you know someone who is a victim of child abuse, you can call the center at 901-476-1515, or your local law enforcement agency.