By Scott Washburn
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and youth-serving organizations across the county will work this month to raise awareness and understanding about a topic that needs more attention in more communities: child sexual abuse.
Five Days of Action for Child Abuse Prevention runs April 16-20 and focuses on preventing child sexual abuse by sharing tips on how adults can step up and speak out to prevent child sexual abuse.
Darkness to Light, a nonproft group dedicated to assisting adults in preventing child abuse, shares the following statistics:
One in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
Ninety percent of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser.
Approximately 30 percent of children who are sexually abused are abused by family members.
Sixty percent of child sexual abuse victims never tell anyone.
False reports are rare. Research shows that only 4 percent to 8 percent of child sexual abuse reports are fabricated.
Abuse does not discriminate. It happens to children of all ages, genders, races, faiths and socioeconomic classes.
Keeping kids safe from abuse is essential to their healthy development. Studies show that children who experience adverse childhood experiences like sexual abuse are more likely to adopt risky behaviors such as smoking and drug use, develop chronic health conditions such as depression and heart disease, underperform academically, and die prematurely.
While we are placing a special emphasis on this topic during the month of April, the protection of youth from abuse is our top priority every single day of the year. By encouraging adults to step up and speak out to protect children, we can bring awareness to the issue of child sexual abuse in our communities and foster conversations around how we can all work together to prevent it from happening.
The good news is that child sexual abuse is preventable, and we are fully committed to doing our part to keep youth protected from abuse in our community, and we are asking you to join us.
As a community, we can stand up to demand that children are protected and speak out to encourage adults to make it happen. It takes all of us.
Scott Washburn is president and CEO of the YMCA of Snohomish County and is joined in this commentary by Pam Shields, executive director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County; Bill Tsoukalas, executive director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County; Kevin Nichols, Scout executive, Boy Scouts of America; Jim Stephanson, CEO, Camp Fire Snohomish County; Joseph Alonzo, interim CEO, Cocoon House; Lori Vanderburg, executive director, Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center