April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Every year at this time I’m reminded of when I began educating people about how to prevent child sexual abuse.
Adults have a hard time talking about child abuse, especially child sexual abuse. That’s because not only is CSA a horrific violation of an innocent child’s trust but it’s also about sex. In our society, sex is not a topic most adults feel comfortable talking about in public.
When I decided to educate adults about CSA twelve years ago, I had no idea how I was going to accomplish this task. I just knew I would not have suffered in silence for so long as a child if the adults in my life had known how to talk openly about CSA.
Eventually, I became involved with Darkness to Light, which gave me the tools I needed to pursue my goal. I received permission to translate the D2L information booklet into Icelandic, and I distributed a copy to every home in Iceland. This is why I cofounded NGO in Iceland and how my public speaking career began. That booklet generated lots of opportunities to speak about CSA to concerned adults.
Yet, like I said, CSA is an uncomfortable topic for most adults. So how do I teach them to overcome their discomfort? Here’s what I do:
- I never present the grim statistics about CSA without giving them the tools they need to cope with this horrifying information.
- I offer plenty of hope, because we can make a difference one person at a time.
- I show them how to talk about CSA and give them age-appropriate language.
- I stress the benefits of CSA education: 1.) the other parents in your community will know you’re watching out for their kids too; 2.) abused children will feel safe talking to you about it; 3.) adult survivors will be encouraged to seek healing.
If you’d like to offer this kind of hope to the adults and children in your community, please visit www.d2l.org for more information about a Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training session near you. Or you can take this evidence-based training online at the D2L website.
You’ll never regret becoming educated about CSA. It gives you the tools you’ll need to save a child from years of pain, isolation, and shame. And that alone is priceless!
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