April is child abuse awareness month in America, and today at work we had a special presentation about Darkness to Light. Darkness to Light is an organization which helps advocate for child sexual abuse victims and their families.

It’s also a prevention and response program for adults. The women from the organization explained how we as adults can help to prevent the sexual abuse of children in our communities. I learned so much from the presentation, that I wanted to share a few things, mainly about prevention:

There are More than 4 Steps to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse…

Step 1: Learn the Facts and Understand the Risks

Realities, Not Trust, Should Influence Your Decisions Regarding Children

“We live in a beautiful, safe neighborhood. None of these children could be victims of sexual abuse, right?”

IT IS HIGHLY likely that you know a child who has been or is being abused.

  • Experts estimate that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthdays. This means that in any classroom or neighborhood full of children, there are children who are silently bearing the burden of sexual abuse.
  • 1 in 5 children are sexually solicited while on the Internet.
  • nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under.
  • The median age for reported sexual abuse is 9 years old.
  • Approximately 20% of the victims of sexual abuse are under age eight.
  • 50% of all victims of forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling are under age twelve.
  • Most child victims never report the abuse.
  • Sexually abused children who keep it a secret or who “tell” and are not believed are at greater risk than the general population for psychological, emotional, social, and physical problems, often lasting into adulthood. It is also likely that you know an abuser. The greatest risk to children doesn’t come from strangers but from friends and family.
  • 30-40% of children are abused by family members.
  • As many as 60% are abused by people the family trusts- abusers frequently try to form a trusting relationship with parents.
  • Nearly 40% are abused by older or larger children.
  • People who abuse children look and act just like every one else. In fact, they often go out of their way to appear trustworthy to gain access to children.
  • Those who sexually abuse children are drawn to settings where they can gain easy access to children, such as sports leagues, faith centers, clubs, and schools. 

CONSEQUENCES to children and to our society begin immediately. Child sexual abuse is a direct source of a number of problems facing us.

  • 70-80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use.
  • One study showed that among male survivors, 50% have suicidal thoughts and more than 20% attempt suicide.
  • Young girls who are sexually abused are more likely to develop eating disorders as adolescents.
  • More than 60% of teen first pregnancies are preceded by experiences of molestation, rape or attempted rape. The average age of the offenders is 27 years old.
  • Approximately 40% of sex offenders report sexual abuse as children.
  • Both males and females who have been sexually abused are more likely to engage in prostitution.
  • Approximately 70% of sexual offenders of children have between 1 and 9 victims; 20-25% have 10 to 40 victims.
  • Serial child molesters may have as many as 400 victims in their lifetimes.

Source: Darkness To Light To see more and learn all the steps for prevention please visit the website.

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