National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families. During the month of April and throughout the year, communities are encouraged to share child abuse and neglect prevention awareness strategies and activities and promote prevention across the country.

The number one way to prevent child sexual abuse is to educate yourself and the children you care for. In researching child sexual abuse for the last ten years, here’s the top three statistics and how I believe we can change them.

Approximately 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be molested by the time they are 18

The only way to change those numbers is to believe they are real in the first place. Child sexual abuse is happening in every school and youth-serving organization no matter where you live. The perpetrators count on the silence of their victims and their families. Teach your kids to speak up if touched inappropriately and then take action when they disclose or you witness boundaries being crossed. Trust your gut and teach kids to trust theirs.

child abuse awareness prevention

90% of the time children are molested by someone they know, trust, and possibly love

Educate yourself and the kids you care for on what grooming behaviors are and look like. It is rare to witness molestation first hand but you will notice inappropriateness if you know what to look for. Molesters look just like you and me. Molesters purposely seek relationships, employment, and volunteer positions that give them opportunities to be with kids. Often, it is the person you least suspect. They are that favorite teacher, coach, step-dad, uncle, older cousin, or babysitter’s son. Victims can be any race, religion, or socio-economic background, although there are some factors that make some children more vulnerable like coming from a home of divorce or domestic violence, being mentally or physically disabled.

95% of child sexual abuse can be prevented through education

The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute says that 95% of child sexual abuse can be prevented through education. Ninety-five percent! So why isn’t everyone lining up to take child sexual abuse prevention training? It makes people too uncomfortable.

Carla van Dam, leading Psychologist, writes in her book, The Socially Skilled Child Molester, molesters deliberately target those who refuse to discuss child sexual abuse, who are too polite to speak up when boundaries are crossed or do not educate themselves on what grooming behaviors look like.

Now that you know how common child sexual abuse is and that most kids are abused by someone they know and that it can be prevented through education, what steps can you to take to be sure you land in that last statistic and not the first two?

child abuse awareness prevention
  1. Take a child sexual abuse prevention class yourself so you can have informed discussions with your peers, kids, and those who care for your children.
  2. Before placing your kid in the care of others ask if they and their staff have been trained on child sexual abuse prevention which is totally different from mandated reporter training.
  3. Routinely remind the kids you care for that they are in charge of their body and nobody is allowed to touch them if it feels icky, bad, or wrong and to tell you if it happens.

Christy Heiskala child abuse awareness educatorChristy Heiskala, Founder of Educate to Eliminate, teaches child sexual abuse prevention and is a Victim Advocate for those who have been abused. Christy also serves as a CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster children.

Connect with Christy on social media:
Twitter @Edu2Eliminate
LinkedIn Christy Heiskala