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  • 03 Sep 2018 1:15 PM | Catherine Townsend (Administrator)

    Promoting Healthy Relationships and Sexuality Education for Children

    The “Six Pillars of Prevention” is a framework for the prevention of child sexual abuse. Understanding that no one policy can combat the full scope of child sexual abuse and exploitation, the Prevention Coalition has identified these six areas, or Pillars, in which new and improved policies can have the most impact. The Six Pillars are:

    1.            Strengthen Youth Serving Organizations’ (YSOs) sexual abuse and exploitation prevention capacity,

    2.            Support the healthy development of children,

    3.            Promote healthy relationships and sexuality education for children and youth,

    4.            End the demand for children as sexual commodities,

    5.            Have sustainable funds for prevention, and

    6.            Prevent initial perpetration of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

     

    In September and October 2018, the Prevention Coalition will examine Pillar Three, Promoting Healthy Relationships and Sexuality Education for Children. The Prevention Coalition will use social media – tweets, blogs, and emails – to bring the message of Pillar Three to Prevention Coalition members, youth-serving professionals, parents, and the public.

    The World Childhood Foundation is leading this effort. This is fitting because the World Childhood Foundation works to support the development of solutions to prevent and address violence, defend children’s rights, and promote better living conditions for children. The World Childhood Foundation has supported over 1,000 projects in 25 countries and served over 71,000 clients in the U.S. alone during 2016-2017.

    Other Prevention Coalition members will provide content to promote this Pillar. Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA, is Executive Director of American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children and consults to promote sexual health and safety for families, communities, schools, and organizations. She is the author of The Sex-Wise Parent: The Parent’s Guide to Protecting Your Child, Strengthening Your Family, and Talking to Kids About Sex, Abuse, and Bullying. The Georgia Center for Child Advocacy coordinates a state-wide initiative to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation. They are providing a great deal of first-hand experience with healthy development and sexuality education.

    By promoting the Six Pillars, the Prevention Coalition hopes to start a dialogue that will lead to meaningful policy changes that improve the safety of children and families everywhere.


  • 30 Aug 2018 10:45 AM | Catherine Townsend (Administrator)

    The Prevention Coalition Starts a Conversation About Preventing the Perpetration of Child Sexual Abuse

    Why is it so hard for the public and the media to understand that child sexual abuse can be prevented? During the recent media blitz over the grand jury report about child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, we watched survivor after survivor tell their story. It was heart wrenching. But why was the prevention of child sexual abuse not a piece of the narrative?

    Whether we interrupt the thought process of someone at risk for abusing children, educate children and adults about child sexual abuse, or put policies in place that remove children from the circumstances that lead to abuse, we are preventing perpetration. We are stopping abuse before it happens. We are sparing children the terrible pain that the survivors of the Catholic Church abuse in Pennsylvania suffered.

    The Prevention Coalition is committed to taking steps to make the public understand that prevention is possible. The Prevention Coalition’s “Six Pillars of Prevention” are a great framework for the prevention of child sexual abuse. The Sixth Pillar of Prevention – “Preventing Perpetration” – is particularly important.

    During the months of July and August, the Prevention Coalition focused its efforts on publicizing Pillar Six: “Preventing Perpetration”. There have been daily tweets and weekly blogs on the subject. The effort has been led by Jenny Coleman of Stop It Now! This is apropos because Stop It Now! is one of very few organizations that provides a helpline for those who are at risk of abusing children, in addition to educating adults and families about preventing child sexual abuse. Visit www.stopitnow.org for more information.

    In August, Ann Snyder of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers authored a blog closely related to this subject. She pointed out that capturing the attention of media will require that we learn to pivot the conversation away from the noise of current events to prevention. She provided many real-life examples of how to do this. This is a powerful tool in the prevention toolbox. To see her blog, click here,  http://www.preventtogether.com/blog/6578059

     

    Over the next year, the Prevention Coalition will examine each Pillar in depth, highlighting members who make significant contributions to a particular Pillar and its policy issues. The Third Pillar “Promoting Healthy Relationships and Sexuality Education for Children and Youth” is being sponsored by the World Childhood Foundation in September and October.

     

    It is our hope that the dialogue the Prevention Coalition seeks to advance with the “Six Pillars” will lead to meaningful policy changes that will make a positive impact on the lives and children and families.


  • 16 Aug 2018 12:30 PM | Catherine Townsend (Administrator)

    How to keep the focus on prevention amid the noise of current events

    by Ann Snyder, Public Affairs Coordinator, Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers

    One of the maxims for PR specialists when dealing with an issue is, “Answer the question you want to be asked, not the one you are asked.” It’s become a truism because it works. It’s all about the pivot.

    Pivoting to the topic you want to discuss, rather than allowing the other person to drive the conversation, helps you cut through the noise of current events. So how do you pivot to prevention while still being responsive to the many questions and concerns about sexual abuse you receive from the media and general public? It involves four simple steps:

    • Know what you want to say,
    • Practice saying it,
    • Understand how that message relates to current events, and
    • Pivot to that message using a three-step process that 1) acknowledges, 2) corrects, 3) and educates the person with whom you’re talking.

    How does this work in practice? If you want to focus on prevention, be prepared. Develop key talking points you can keep on hand. Save them on your phone, carry them on a card in your wallet, keep them on your desk. Make sure they are easy to understand. Use short sentences and avoid technical language. Practice saying them until they come easily. Your goal is to deliver your prevention message every time you speak with reporters or the general public about sexual abuse.

    When someone talks with you about sexual abuse, the questions they ask may not be about prevention, but you can make them about prevention by 1) acknowledging, 2) correcting, and 3) educating the person asking the questions. The following examples are for talking with the media, but they apply equally to talking with elected and appointed officials and the general public. These are just examples; you will want to use the key prevention messages your organization promotes.

    • A reporter calls for your comment about proposed legislation to increase residence distances from schools for individuals on sex offender registries. You can respond by saying that:
      1. you support and share the legislature’s goal of promoting public safety, but
      2. residence restrictions don’t address the fact that most sexual abusers assault people they know, and
      3. a better means of PREVENTING child sexual abuse would be to invest in educating parents and children about such things as personal boundaries, healthy sexuality, grooming behaviors, and factors that can lead to abuse.
    • A reporter calls for your comment on a court case involving a celebrity who is on trial for sexual assault. You can respond by saying that:
    1. you understand that people may be surprised by this story, but
    2. unfortunately, sexual abuse occurs at all levels of society and it is not uncommon for sexual abusers to harm others from a position of power and trust, and
    3. businesses and other organizations can help PREVENT sexual abuse from occurring by taking steps such as implementing and enforcing sound HR policies, educating managers and staff on what to look for, and teaching people how to safely speak up and intervene.
    • A reporter calls requesting statistics on sexual assaults because s/he is writing about a local campus rape. You can respond by:
      1. sending not only the specific statistics requested, but
      2. also statistics about offenders, victims, trends, and other issues, and
      3. include information about effective PREVENTION measures such as campus safety policies and practices, parent and student orientation programs, and other topics.
    • A reporter calls about the number of registered sex offenders living in the community. You can respond by saying that:
      1. you share everyone’s concern for keeping children and families safe, but
      2. public registries are not very effective at reducing risk to the community because most people who have sexually offended once do not do so again, so registries don’t help reduce crime rates any further; registries use a one-size-fits-all approach based on stranger-danger and do not address the fact that most perpetrators offend against people they know; registries take scarce resources away from law enforcement by requiring monitoring of everyone on a registry rather than focusing on those who present a higher risk to reoffend; and
      3. the best way to keep communities safe is to focus on effective PREVENTION techniques such as educating parents and children about such things as personal boundaries, healthy sexuality, grooming behaviors, adequate group supervision, and factors that can lead to abuse, and by ensuring people at risk to offend receive the treatment and supports they need to change their trajectory.

    Shifting a conversation about sexual abuse to a discussion about prevention raises people’s awareness about the factors that can lead to sexual abuse and helps them understand how they can play a role in stopping sexual abuse before it starts. By following these guidelines, you can respect individuals’ original concerns and questions, while at the same time reframing the issue and educating people about effective prevention strategies. It’s all about the pivot.

    Ann Snyder

    Public Affairs Coordinator

    Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers

  • 09 Aug 2018 11:09 AM | Catherine Townsend (Administrator)

    The last few blogs posted here have discussed ways to intercept those who have a sexual interest in children before they act on those feelings. Prevention Coalition members Stop It Now! and ATSA are leaders in this field.

    “Back to School” time provides a great opportunity to point out other ways to prevent perpetration. A large number of Prevention Coalition members provide cutting-edge resources on ways parents and children can prevent perpetration. Enough Abuse, Stop It Now!, Committee for Children, Monique Burr Foundation and Darkness to Light all provide simple, proactive steps toward prevention on their websites and in their publications and programs.

    At minimum, there are three things that parents should know as they send their kids off to school.

    • ·         You can’t recognize a potential perpetrator just by looking or talking with them.  Many perpetrators are charming and appear to be caring and attentive. In fact, many offenders are teachers, coaches, and youth leaders.
    • ·         Potential perpetrators often “groom” children. Grooming consists of seemingly innocent behaviors to gain ongoing access and control over a child. Even for adults, it can hard to determine where positive attention leaves off and grooming begins. Once children have been groomed, they often become compliant victims; they feel they “owe” the perpetrator loyalty.
    • ·         To prevent this all too familiar pattern, parents must, at minimum, learn the facts about child sexual abuse. Information is power. Information gives parents the backdrop they need to take simple preventive steps that will better protect their children.

    For the best evidence-informed information about child sexual abuse prevention strategies visit the websites of Prevention Coalition members today.


  • 27 Jul 2018 12:45 PM | Catherine Townsend (Administrator)

    As Director of the child sexual abuse prevention organization Stop It Now!, Jenny Coleman has a clinical background specializing in work with at-risk children, many of whom had undergone trauma and had grown up in foster or residential care. She also brings experience in early-childhood education and in developing mental health assistance programs and hotlines at the organizational level. She heard of Stop It Now! while longing to move away from the for-profit sector and back to her clinical roots; her interest piqued after learning of their unique approach to perpetrator prevention. As she has internalized it, this means “creating space for everybody to show up. I don’t see any one person as the enemy or the bad person.” She emphasizes that while everyone must be held accountable for their behavior, no one is just the sum of it. She started as Helpline Manager at Stop It Now! and has been with the organization for seven years.

    Stop It Now! was founded by a survivor named Fran Henry. Her father sexually abused her, and her impetus to establish the organization was informed by the realization that she never would have spoken up against him, even as she endured his abuse. She loved him and saw years later that he had undergone a series of revelations about his sexually harmful behaviors and was seeking treatment. She asked: “What could have made the difference for me as a survivor and for him as an abuser?” In conversations with fellow survivors and perpetrators alike, it became apparent that many relational complexities disrupted the simplistic prevention and intervention model of relying on the victim’s initiative in “speaking up.” Coleman believes that we can educate and support children and respond to abuse effectively, but, as Henry discovered and Coleman suggests, we also must “recognize that no matter what we give the kids, adults are the ones that are going to have to do something.”

    Thus, Stop It Now! emerged on the wings of an upstart, consciousness-raising media campaign to help adults across the board – parents, bystanders and those at-risk of acting on sexualized thoughts and behaviors themselves. She wants these individuals to take responsibility, stand up and adopt help-seeking behaviors for prevention. The organization aims to put a human face to every actor involved and to promote an approach to ending sexual abuse that treats it as a comprehensive public health issue.

    Stop It Now!’s helpline was devised as a place of support where at-risk or perpetrating adults could turn. Stop It Now! has contributed critical and demonstrable insight in prevention work: that adults who are at-risk for abusing, or even already have, will reach out if they know that resources exist and where to find and use them.

    In addition to their Help Services, Stop It Now!’s website (www.stopitnow.org) serves as a public education platform, directing browsers to tip sheets that outline identifiable warning signs and guidebooks that suggest how to broach sensitive topics and create family and community Safety Plans. They administer “Circles of Safety” training to professional caregivers, youth-serving organizations and parents in order to increase protective factors in youth-serving individuals and environments. Further, they consult on individual cases and participate as an active member in a network of public research and advocacy groups. Coleman is thankful to the Prevention Coalition for keeping her and the team at Stop It Now! informed as their organizational focus occupies a niche in child sexual abuse prevention and because “a multitude of voices can be more powerful than a singular voice,” especially when the first step in tackling child sexual abuse is coming to the table to “have that conversation.”


  • 19 Jul 2018 11:08 AM | Catherine Townsend (Administrator)

    This week Linda Johnson, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, emphasizes how critical it is that child abuse prevention and treatment be nuanced and comprehensive.

    She and the staff at PCAV have successfully approached their Healthy Relationships Project programs with this consciousness. The Project’s three phases of curricula each target and involve a developmentally-distinct child age group within the range of 3- to 14-year olds. The trainings build preventative knowledge and skills through age-appropriate interactive lessons on healthy sexuality and relationships. Their child-focused nature is complemented by resources designed to prepare and connect parents, educators and other community stakeholders to prevent abuse as responsible adults.

    While skills fostered by the Healthy Relationships Project aim to proactively “strengthen children’s empathy, form the foundation for consent,” highlight communication techniques and guide participants to generate lists of people in whom they feel they could confide, Johnson expresses that “we also make it clear that they may choose not to tell, for many different reasons.”

    A trauma-informed understanding of disclosure acknowledges that it’s important that harmed children and teens know, regardless of their decision to vocalize their experience(s), that “it is nonetheless not their fault that sexual abuse has happened to them and/or to others [they know].” By reinforcing the fact that they cannot be blamed, Johnson says the care community works to “prevent guilt that may develop for not telling and [minimizes the growth of] a sense of responsibility for it happening in the first place.”

     

    In schools receiving Healthy Relationships programming (and representing a total participant population of 623,000), Johnson reported a 64% decline in the sexual abuse of children and youth, across victim age and relationship to perpetrator. Further, over a twenty-four year project lifespan, the number of youth found to have perpetrated sexual abuse year-by-year dropped from 260 in 1992 to 99 in 2016, a 60% decrease.


  • 12 Jul 2018 11:25 AM | Catherine Townsend (Administrator)

    The Six Pillars of Prevention: Preventing Perpetration

    The “Six Pillars of Prevention” is a framework for the prevention of child sexual abuse.

    In July and August 2018, the Prevention Coalition is featuring Pillar #6 on preventing initial perpetration of child sexual abuse and exploitation. This Pillar focuses on recognizing and responding responding to inappropriate behavior by adults and other youth. It also emphasizes community response in the form of bystander intervention. There is an emphasis on intervening with those who are inappropriately attracted to children. This Pillar is especially important as children prepare to go back to school.

    Prevention Coalition member Stop It Now! is featured in July and August 2018 because of its leadership on the tenets of Pillar #6.  Stop It Now! is the only organization that offers an email, chat, and telephone helpline for those at risk of abusing children. The helpline services they provide are excellent for any adult seeking guidance, support and resources to prevent sexual abuse. Visit www.stopitnow.org for more information.




  • 05 Jul 2018 3:16 PM | Catherine Townsend (Administrator)

    The time is now. It’s on all of us to end child sexual abuse before a child is harmed. Prevention must be our focus. And prevention-related policies are vital to changing the way systems work, influencing how people behave, and creating accountability that it will happen.  


    Yet no one policy can do it all. A wide range of policies are needed. That’s why the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation developed Six Pillars for Prevention – to articulate important elements of a comprehensive policy agenda as a tool for communities to use to expand this conversation.  


    Prevention policies should focus on:


    1. Strengthen Youth Serving Organizations (YSOs) Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Capacity

    2. Support Healthy Development of Children

    3. Promote Healthy Relationships and Sexuality Education for Children and Youth

    4. End the Demand for Children as Sexual Commodities

    5. Sustainable Funds for Prevention

    6. Prevent Initial Perpetration of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation


    Join us and learn more about ways to expand the conversation and strategic planning around prevention-related policies in communities across the country!



  • 03 Apr 2018 12:28 PM | Adrienne Hoffman-Lewis (Administrator)
    Committee for Children is urging families to talk with their children in an age-appropriate way about child sexual abuse through the Hot Chocolate Talk and guiding families through this conversation with easy-to-use, research-based materials. Additionally, Coalition members are invited to use CFC's messaging toolkit to help get the message out about the importance of having this kind of conversation.
  • 25 Aug 2017 8:42 AM | Julie Patrick (Administrator)
    Check out this blog by By Dawn Doran, Acting Director, Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking!

    Read more!

    Recognizing the ever-growing body of research on sex offenders and sexual offending, the Department of Justice's Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office developed the Sex Offender Management Assessment and Planning Initiative (SOMAPI). SOMAPI summarizes the current state of sex offender management research and practice and recommends steps to bolster the evidence behind certain strategies used to contain and manage this population.

    The SOMAPI report provides an overview of the extent of sexual abuse in the U.S., explains what we know about the causes of this behavior and how we classify sex offenders, gives recidivism rates for different groups of offenders and reviews what we know about assessing, treating and managing adults and juveniles who commit sex offenses. Adults and juveniles differ significantly in their capacity to weigh the consequences of decisions and control their behavior — as well as their likelihood to reoffend — so the report is divided into two sections: what we know about adults and what we know about juveniles who commit sex crimes.

    Highlights from the SOMAPI report show that most sexual offenses are not reported to law enforcement and, therefore, most sex crimes are not accounted for in official arrest and conviction rates. However, we do know that different types of sex offenders have markedly different reoffense rates. Overall rates of sexual recidivism range from 5 percent after three years to 24 percent after 15 years.


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