I suspect, just from the title alone, we lost a few folks. Let’s face it, this is an ugly topic and most people avoid it at all costs. Mostly because it’s not happy, it’s messy or maybe they are one of the ignorant many that believes this does not happen to or near people who live in their type of neighborhood, in their type of school, to their type of people, etc.
In honor of this first weekend of Child Abuse Prevention Month, let’s talk about it. If I had more time, I would share with you my WHY – why I am so passionate about this topic. Some of you following this blog know our story; others who don’t are invited to go to www.DarleneEllison.com to learn far more about me than you even wanted to know.
The truth is we have a social epidemic. Oops, I just lost a few more people!
For those of you still here, the epidemic is NOT that we have more predators than ever before in the world of our children. The epidemic is NOT that the Internet gives child predators easier access to our children (although that IS true and a whole separate discussion). The epidemic is that WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THIS with each other or with our children. The epidemic is our SILENCE.
We have programs for intervention after the sexual abuse has occurred and programs that serve populations that are child sexual abuse survivors. But we have got to get going on tackling this epidemic from a much stronger PREVENTION model. Seriously, what are we all afraid of?
Did you know that last year, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) served more than 4,100 children (and their non-offending family members) who were sexually abused, severely physically abused, or who had witnessed a violent crime? Their average client is a 9-10 year-old girl, sexually abused by someone she knows and trusts. Did you know that in a startling graphic provided by New Friends, New Life (that graphic can be viewed on our Predator Next Door Facebook page), 93% of trafficked teens have been physically or sexually abused? Doesn’t it just make sense that if we followed a model where we actually spent TIME, RESOURCES and MONEY to communicate with, educate, safeguard and empower our young children we might actually dramatically reduce all of these awful statistics?
In my presentations that I make across the country, I talk about the Inside-Out Rule. It’s more of a “rule of thumb” that says that we must tackle this social issue from INSIDE of the issue. The only two people in a room where child sexual abuse is occurring are a predator and a child. In a room where that child is confused, scared, unsure and believes this predator, who in most cases is someone that they know well or is even a member of their family, tells them they better not tell or ______(you can insert a whole host of frightening scenarios that would terrify a child).
But what if that child had actually engaged in conversations about protecting themselves, conversations about how to say no or get away, conversations about who to tell. No need to even use the words, “sexual” or “abuse.” What if we had these conversations in our homes, in our churches, in our communities and IN OUR SCHOOLS? I salute a young “warrior” in our fight against child abuse named Erin Merryn. Erin focuses her energy on just that – she founded Erin’s Law, which ensures that all public schools in each state implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program. It still has not passed in every state, but this amazing young hero is working hard to make sure it does.
So this entire month, when you see the signature Child Abuse Prevention Month blue t-shirts, blue pinwheels or even the blue polish on my toes, remember that every child deserves a childhood free of abuse. Every one of us plays a part because we are surrounded by children – in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our communities, in our churches.
I invite you to click on the many links provided in this week’s post, then SHARE it with a few friends. Let’s break the epidemic of SILENCE and start talking about it.
SHE-friends, women are renowned for being difference-makers in our society. What will YOU do today, this week or this month to help us protect our country’s future leaders – our children? Let me know!
Note from the SHE files: One woman can make a difference, but together we can rock the world!