On August 1, 1970, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department created the Youth Guidance Division. The Metropolitan Government recognized a need for a particular division of the Police Department focusing primarily on emphasizing the health and welfare of youth. The objectives of the Youth Guidance Division were the prevention of juvenile delinquency, the discovery of misconduct, and the elimination of the neglect of young people. The division coordinated with efforts of existing law enforcement agencies in the community that were concerned with the application of juvenile laws. There was a keen interest in the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the investigation of neglected and abused children.
The Youth Services Division duty remains working with communities in developing problem solving procedures; therefore, challenging the direct causes of crime through community engagement and diligent investigations. The division encourages building community capital through establishing trust through valuing trust and diversity.
The current goals of the Youth Services Division support the organizations and communities that work every day to put an end to youth homelessness, delinquency, physical and sexual abuse, truancy, educational neglect, runaway, and domestic violence. These include:
- Improving Outcomes for Youth
- Ensuring School Engagement
- Promoting the Role of Prevention
- Engaging Youth, Family, and Community
- Diverting Youth from the Justice System
- Reducing Recidivism and Institutionalization
- Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities
- Ensuring Access to Quality Investigations and Referrals
- Creating a Range of Effective Community-Based Programs
- Recognizing and Serving Youth with Specialized Needs
Justice, Responsibility, Diligence
The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, Youth Services Division, is responsible for investigating the following:
- Investigating Child Deaths, Child Abuse and Neglect
- Investigating Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
- Investigating Juvenile Missing Persons (under the age of 18 years) & Parental Kidnapping
- Investigate Reports of Runaway Juveniles and Absconders
Child Abuse and Exploitation
This unit investigates cases involving suspected child molestation, child sex abuse, child exploitation. Also, the group investigates cases of child sexual assault and rape of a child under 18 years of age. The Child Sex Abuse and Exploitation unit work closely with Department of Children’s Services (DCS), The District Attorney's Office and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Tennessee. The team concept employs joint interviews of child sexual abuse victims.
Child Physical Abuse Unit
The Child Physical Abuse Unit Investigates incidents of child deaths, assaults, weapon violations, threats, and other crimes of violence committed against young victims . Members of this section investigate both known suspect and Juvenile Court custody cases. These members work closely with Department of Children’s Services (DCS), The District Attorney's Office and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Tennessee. When a child is physically beaten or sexually abused, the ideal set of events is that doctors treat the injuries, therapists counsel the child, social services work with the family, police arrest the offender, and attorneys prosecute the case. Promoting this response, effective community intervention involves the formation of a child protection team that includes professionals from medicine, criminal justice, social work, and education who understand and appreciate the different roles, responsibilities, strengths, and weaknesses of the other team members but cooperate and coordinate their efforts. The skills of each person are viewed as different but equally important.
The role of law enforcement in runaway cases is to investigate to determine if a violation of criminal law occurred, identify and apprehend the runaway, and file appropriate criminal charges. The Runaway Unit conducts a holistic approach to developing procedures, protocols, and ways they can work with other professions to ensure that the needs of children are met. Investigations regarding runaway/missing persons present a genuine challenge to law enforcement professionals. Fortunately, public awareness and concern about runaway/missing persons continue to grow, especially as it relates to missing children and chronic runaways.
Counseling and Case Management Section
The Counseling and Case Management Section collaboratively refer youth to appropriate agencies and provide short-term case management for at risk youth. Forming relationships with Metro Nashville Public Schools and Juvenile Court, this unit actively seeks restoration of the family unit. Four times a year, The Counseling and Case Management Section offers a free 9-week Strengthening Families Program. This program is for juveniles who are deemed at-risk, youths who run away from home, juveniles who commit misdemeanor criminal offenses, and juveniles who are chronically truant. The classes are offered in English and Spanish sessions.