Dickson officials, DCS to meet over severe child abuse cases - WSMV News 4

Dickson officials, DCS to meet over severe child abuse cases

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The sheriff, district attorney and a child advocate in one Middle Tennessee county are all in agreement that the Tennessee Department of Children's Services has been downgrading some severe child abuse cases.

Last week, State Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, said it is time for a complete audit and outside investigation of DCS after it allegedly failed to report 31 child deaths in the state in 2012.

Now, the pressure continues to mount for DCS as Dickson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe, District Attorney Dan Alsobrooks and Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Kim Stringfield-Davis will meet with DCS Commissioner Kate O'Day to talk about child abuse in their county that DCS has not classified as severe child abuse.

They believe not reporting the cases as severe child abuse may have left several children in real jeopardy of being killed.

Severe child abuse, a felony, is defined as "the knowing exposure of a child to or the knowing failure to protect a child from abuse or neglect that is likely to cause serious bodily injury or death."

The Child Advocacy Center serves Dickson County and surrounding areas, and it also works hand-in-hand with DCS. So for them to say there could be a problem should draw more attention to the issue.

Bledsoe, Alsobrooks and Stringfield-Davis declined to comment on this story until after they meet with DCS, which should happen some time in the next week.

The number and details of the possible severe child abuse cases in question are not yet known, but one involves a 4-year-old who was dangerously intoxicated and another was a sex abuse case that could have led to an arrest and felony charges.

Bledsoe recently voiced his concern in a letter sent to the legislature.

"There may only be one opportunity to intervene and protect or save a child's life. Therefore, I am asking for your help to resolve this urgent matter," he wrote.

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