Stacy Gallagher, Start the conversation with children, Cape Code Times
The national spotlight shined recently on Jared Fogle for possessing child pornography. A few weeks ago, a Mashpee physician was sentenced in federal court in Boston after he was convicted of child pornography. A priest in Louisville, Kentucky, was arrested for taking and having sexually inappropriate photos of his littlest parishioners. The list could go on and on.
These are just a few stories from the police blotter and, while none of these cases is all that unique, all constitute what those of us in child advocacy are charged to combat every day: the sobering statistics that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday and 1 in 5 will be solicited for sex online. It’s our charge to educate our community that child sexual abuse happens on the public stage, at churches and in our own backyards.
What we don’t talk about often are the children and their stories. We don’t because we are bound to protect the children and their families from further trauma and respect their right to privacy. You see, it’s at the core of a child advocate to protect children from further trauma at all costs.
We see little boys whose cousins come down the Cape to visit and abuse them in the safest place they know: their own home. We see girls who post on backpage.com and whisper.com that they’ll have sex for $40. We help children who are in protective custody and/or in residential treatment facilities who have done nothing except trust someone who later abused them.
These are composite stories, and no specific cases are revealed here. But what they all share is that these children didn’t know how to protect themselves, and they had no one they trusted to protect them.
When children know about body safety and healthy boundaries and have a trusted adult in their lives, they may still become victims. But they will know it when they do and can recognize and report it. They will have the tools to say no and can set healthy boundaries. Also, they will know how to help others stay safe.
Please take five minutes to talk to your children about body safety and healthy boundaries so that you can educate and empower your children and other children you love about child sexual abuse so we can stop it before it happens.
Join us at childrenscove.org and we’ll help you start the conversation.