Tragedy strikes, spirits break, people heal. Sometimes tragedy is overt, like the senseless mass murder in Newtown, Connecticut; and sometimes it is quiet and hidden.
According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), in 2005, an estimated 83,800 young people were victims of confirmed or substantiated child sexual abuse. That is approximately 230 tragedies each day, or one every 6 minutes. That was over 6 years ago and I am sure it is a safe bet to say these numbers have increased.
Child sexual abuse is a crime that touches us all. The societal impact is tremendous. It is highly likely that you know a child who has been, or is being abused. One in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. More than 60% of teen first pregnancies are preceded by experiences of molestation, rape or attempted rape. Seventy - 80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use. In more than 90% of sexual abuse cases the child and the child's family know and trust the abuser. This is not a random act of violence.
Over and over again tragedy strikes, spirits are crushed; some heal and some don’t. This is a crime that many think doesn’t happen to children in their culture, in their socio-economic class, or their family. Maybe you are one of the many that can’t fathom it happening to children in your neighborhood, your school, or your house of worship, but it does. One of the most sinister aspects of this crime is people know, or they don’t realize they know, what is happening.
There are signs adults can look for in children, in groomers, and in the policies and procedures of youth serving organizations. It is up to adults to learn the facts, know the signs, and put an end to this epidemic.
If we were to learn that 1 in 4 girls or 1 in 6 boys were getting strep throat at school, all sorts of measures would be IMMEDIATELY put in place to prevent others from getting sick. If we were to learn that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys were susceptible to some kind of new kind of disease, we would see telethons, walk-a-thons, and other highly visible awareness/prevention/find-a-cure campaigns spring up.
So why is this different? Where is the outrage, where is the call for action? It is different because of the unfair, inaccurate, and undeserved stigma attributed to the victims and the lack of heat placed on the perpetrators.
Imagine a community where child sexual abuse does not exist. Imagine if you could change the trajectory of this crime. Believe it or not, you can. You can learn about and minimize the risks. Get the facts, and know where to go should you have to report such abuse. You can click on "The 7 Steps to Protecting Children" or take a child sexual abuse prevention training.
On January 15th 2013, Detective Sandra Rose will be facilitating a session at the Sandy Springs Police Department HQ. Please see Flyer Doc for details or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy. Child sexual abuse is a crime, but it is one that can be prevented – by you!