Father arrested after beating son over virtual learning, police say

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis police have arrested a man for aggravated child abuse after his son suffered severe injuries during a physical assault.

According to an affidavit, police were dispatched to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital Wednesday after reports of a domestic violence assault in the 1800 block of Chalkwell Cove.

The victim’s mother told police her son’s father had physically assaulted him at the home.

A relative told the mother her son was being abused.

The relative sent the mother photos of the victim’s injuries, according to the affidavit.

When the mother called the victim’s father, Christopher Simmons, 34, he reportedly told her he physically assaulted his son because he found out he wasn’t doing his schoolwork.

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The mother then received a call from her son’s school, Germantown High School, who stated they were aware of the assault.

The mother told police she did not know how the school knew about the situation.

When the mother tried to contact Simmons again, he had blocked her number, according to the affidavit.

The mother told police her son had been living with Simmons since March due to behavioral issues.

The victim told police his father came home and confronted him about not doing his work for virtual classes.

The victim told police Simmons punched him at least five times with a closed fist, according to the affidavit.

Simmons left the home about an hour later.

The victim called his cousin to come get him.

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According to the affidavit, the victim sustained three broken ribs, a punctured right lung and tissue damage to his left eye.

It’s part of a larger issue. Friday, the Memphis Child Advocacy Center reported drastic decreases in reports of child abuse since the beginning of the pandemic and the introduction of virtual learning.

“We did see a significant 30 plus decrease in reporting and that make sense because we know that 52 percent of all abuse reports come from school personnel,” said Executive Director Virginia Stallworth.

Now that children aren’t in school, she says the issue becomes underreported and puts children in a more dangerous setting because they may always be with their abusers.

“All kids are not safer at home; some are isolated with their abusers. We have seen an increase in overall physical abuse reports, so there are concerns about the safety of our kids,” Stallworth explained.

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She said it’s important for parents and any other adult to report any behavior that they see or notice, because while report numbers are down, the cases may be rising.

“Childhood should be about being happy and joyful and having fun and learning. All of those things are being impeded when these kids are suffering trauma and abuse.”

Simmons is at 201 Poplar. The Child Advocacy Center said they’re working to expand training to adults to see signs and report abusive behavior to keep children safe.

According to the affidavit, he is charged with Aggravated Child Abuse and Aggravated Assault.