Child sexual abuse is predictable and preventable when we surround children with knowledgeable and outspoken adults and we all play a part in the solution.
Predict: is to declare or indicate in advance; especially to foretell on the basis of observation, experience, or scientific reason.(1)
There are over 39 million survivors of child sexual abuse in America.(2)
From them experts have documented time after time, behavior patterns that appear BEFORE abuse occurs. So, with the right training, we can recognize when children are in danger and put best practices in place to directly reduce the risk of abuse in our homes, neighborhoods and youth-serving organizations. Faith organizations play a crucial role in educating their local community members.
Personal Starting Point
Each of us has a set of past experiences that impact how we feel about the topic of child sexual abuse. Some people know someone who was abused or they may have been abused themselves. Others may struggle with an attraction to children or the thought of sexualizing a child simply destroys their sense of a safe world. These are experiences and feelings that could create a lot of discomfort.
Best Practice #2 is focused on who has access to children. In Best Practice #3 you'll see our focus change to establishing boundaries relating to the behavior of those who have been granted access.
Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #3 - Set, Document and Enforce Boundaries
Written boundaries are at the heart of protecting children. Without them, every day is filled with a myriad of subjective choices that are far too often hindered by our emotions, opinions, relationships, and quest for personal gain (acceptance, security, promotion, raise, etc.). When boundaries are established and documented in writing, they provide a mechanism for objective decision making that applies to everyone who comes in contact with children in your care. No exceptions!
Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #4 - Regularly and Actively Assess Behaviors
Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #7 - Pre-Establish Your Response and Take Bold Action
Child sexual abuse is a crime and cases should never be handled "in-house" or "within the family." Unfortunately through many high profile cases, we've seen the devastating impact of organizations attempting to resolve the issue internally. Over the years we have also learned that countless children were faced with a secondary betrayal when they disclosed and their parents decided to keep it within the family. In both of these scenarios, victims are not validated and provided an opportunity to heal; and child molesters are not held accountable for their actions and in many cases they continued to have access to children resulting in additional victims.
Faith Organizations: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Best Practice #8 - Provide Support and Resource Referrals
20% of our children will be sexually abused by the age of 18.(8) Parents and leaders of Youth Serving Organizations are who grant access to children and they are responsible for being proactive in their efforts to protect children. You are responsible for teaching them how. Our kids are counting on us!
At TAALK, we understand the grooming behaviors that happen BEFORE abuse occurs and have developed this program specifically to combat those behaviors. Although there are no guarantees, this program will take you and the adults and the children in your community well beyond awareness and empower all of you with an extensive list of actions that will have a direct impact on the safety of children.