Last year, more than 4,600 children in Louisiana summoned the courage to walk through the doors of a Children’s Advocacy Center in their community and tell their story, most involving cases of child sexual abuse.
Children’s Advocacy Centers work with a multidisciplinary team of professionals to investigate these cases, hold offenders accountable and help children and families heal. There are 16 CACs located across the state that provide a safe place for children to come and tell their stories. CACs also help educate citizens on child safety and prevention by providing training at workplaces, schools, service clubs and faith communities.
While it would be comforting to think that child sexual abuse happens only in certain kinds of families, the truth is that these children are our neighbors, our children’s playmates, members of our faith communities, our friends and perhaps even members of our own families.
In light of recent allegations against Josh Duggar for sexually abusing five young girls, four of whom were his little sisters, TLC aired a one-hour documentary Sunday titled Breaking the Silence.
The special was produced in partnership with the anti-abuse nonprofits RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and Darkness to Light (D2L), and included information and statistics on the issue of child molestation.
According to Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children prevention training program offered at CACs across the state, here are some steps adults can take to help prevent child sexual abuse:
· Learn the facts: Know the people in your child’s life, be it a coach, a teacher or friends.
· Minimize opportunity: More than 80 percent of sexual abuse incidents occur in isolated, one-on-one situations.
· Talk about it: Many children might not have the verbal skills to talk about difficult topics. Teach them how to respect themselves and their bodies.
· Recognize the signs: If a child appears unusually moody, sullen, withdrawn, quiet or has experienced a difference in behavior, these may be signs of sexual abuse.
· React responsibly: If you learn of sexual abuse, remain composed and calm so as not to cause further stress for the child.
“This is absolutely happening in families across the state and across the country,” said Jesse Hartley, Director of Program Services for Children’s Advocacy Centers of Louisiana. “The incident involving the Duggars made the news, but the reality is most sexual abuse is not disclosed. It’s important to discuss it publicly, so that it no longer stays in the shadows.”
To learn more about your local CAC or to schedule a Stewards of Children training, visit LouisianaChildren.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (888) 567-2272.
Posted on Tue, September 1, 2015
by The Lafourche Gazette