Almost no one likes to talk about child sexual abuse. It can bring up a range of feelings, from mere discomfort to shame, rage, and hopelessness.
But avoiding the topic has a cost, and that cost is the perpetuation of child sexual abuse. It is estimated that one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, and 90% of children who experience sexual abuse know their abuser.
To prevent child sexual abuse, we need to be willing to have uncomfortable discussions. Protecting children is our responsibility as adults, and our discomfort is a small price to pay in comparison to the burden shouldered by children who experience sexual abuse. If our conversations lead to informed vigilance and an active, shared sense of responsibility for protecting children, then our discomfort is more than worth it.
A few months ago, I was trained as an authorized facilitator for Stewards of Children®, a two-hour training created by the nonprofit organization Darkness to Light. The training shares simple but effective ways that adults can create environments that protect children from sexual abuse. It encourages courageous, frank conversations, and the implementation of practices that minimize opportunity for sexual abuse to happen.
Evidence shows that the training leads to adult behavior change and helps shift potentially harmful norms that make sexual abuse more likely. Last month, after I presented the training to a group, I got an email from a participant saying that she had decided to make a report to DCS about a child she was connected to, and the training had been instrumental in her decision to do so.
Information and conversations are powerful. They can initiate action that changes a child’s life for the better. Let’s talk more about preventing and addressing child sexual abuse.
If you’re interested in bringing the Stewards of Children® training to your team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.