COMING TOGETHER to PROTECT CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL ABUSE

The Five Days of Action are about raising awareness and inspiring and educating adults to protect children.

Research shows that increased stress levels among parents is often a major predictor of physical abuse and neglect of children. The support systems that many families relied on have reduced or no availability in many areas nowadays due to limited contact as a result of the pandemic. Child protection agencies are experiencing strained resources with fewer workers available, making them unable to conduct home visits in certain areas. Since some children aren’t physically attending school, teachers and school counselors are unable to witness the signs of abuse and report to the proper authorities. 

The YMCA of Central Florida is dedicated to caring for everyone in our community. We gladly take part in Five Days of Action because it’s incredibly important for at-risk children that the people in their lives are aware of the signs and know how to respond. 

Center for Disease Control Resources

Know how abuse happens

If we don’t understand child sexual abuse, we can’t end it. The greatest risk to children doesn’t come from strangers, but from friends, family, or people the family trusts. People who abuse children look and act just like everyone else. They often go out of their way to appear trustworthy, seeking out settings where they can gain access to children. Abuse happens whenever a stronger or more powerful person asserts themselves against the will of another less-powerful person. Essentially, abuse starts as a boundary violation. One way to protect the children in your care is to teach them about healthy boundaries, and discuss your boundaries with adults and other children.

Tips…

See the warning signs

The signs of abuse aren’t always obvious, but they are often there. Sometimes there aren’t even external, physical signs that a child is being sexually abused. However, emotional or behavioral changes in a child are common. Examples of these types of changes include: physical aggression and rebellion, anxiety, depression, withdrawal, “too perfect” or overly compliant behavior, nightmares, bed-wetting, bullying, cruelty to animals, and a lack of interest in friends, sports, or other activities.

Tips…

Respond quickly to prevent it

There are three instances in which we need to react to sexual abuse: a child discloses abuse to us, we discover sexual abuse ourselves, or we have a reason to suspect it. Speaking out can be scary. What if you don’t know all the details? What if you aren’t 100% sure? Report it anyway. Legally, you do not need proof that abuse is occurring to make a report, only reasonable suspicion. Reporting child sexual abuse is key to preventing and intervening in abuse.

Tips…

Staying safe Online

Technology and the internet connect people worlds apart, but there are also dangers that come along with the internet. Whether playing games, learning, or socializing with friends, they’re in front of a screen more than normal. So, how do you ensure they are staying safe online? By talking to your kids, educating them, and putting safeguards in place, you can help them have safer digital experiences. It’s important to set ground rules, be proactive, and keep the lines of communication open between parents and kids.

Tips…

Pledge to Protect

Download your own Pledge to Protect card. This card will encourage you to KNOW, SEE, and RESPOND to the signs of sexual abuse to help protect children.

Download

References
Townsend, C. Rheingold, A.A., (2013) Estimating a child sexual abuse prevalence rate for practitioners: A review of child sexual abuse prevalence studies. Charleston, S.C., Darkness to Light. Retrieved from www.D2L.org. 
Finkelhor, D. (2012) Characteristics of crimes against juveniles. Durham, NH: Crimes against Children Research Center. 
Julia Whealin, Ph.D. (2007-05-22). “Child Sexual Abuse.” National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, US Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Materials are derived from the YMCA of the USA’s “Know. See. Respond.” copyrighted in 2020. Content provided by Darkness to Light. To learn more or get trained to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse visit www.D2L.org.