“I call upon all Americans to protect our greatest resource— its children— and to take an active role in supporting children and parents and creating safe communities filled with thriving families.” – Joe Biden
One of my highest commitments in life is to answer a call to protect children, support parents, and work to build strong families. Although important all year round, April is set apart as Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States. Throughout the month, I will be offering ideas and resources to better accomplish this mission.
I acknowledge that this is a topic that may make us uncomfortable and that many seek to avoid. It is normal to want to not think about children being harmed. The reality, however, is that there are children that need our help and there are future situations we can protect against by having the skills to prevent abuse.
If there is one idea I wish I could share with everyone, it would be that abuse lives in secrecy.
Secrecy allows for the continuation of hurtful actions and perpetuates further damage to the victim. Katelyn Brewer, CEO of Darkness to Light, states, “We have to get comfortable, as adults, in our discomfort. The more we talk about it, that is what is going to break the silence.”
One in ten children will be sexually abused before they turn eighteen years old.
Approximately forty-two million adults survived childhood sexual abuse and currently live with the long-term consequences.
This abuse is both a mental and physical health crisis in our country. There is a remarkably high chance you currently know someone who is either being abused or was abused as a child. The statistics highlighting the seriousness of the problem are not meant to cause fear but rather bring awareness of the need to address the issue in ways that promote prevention and healing. Learning will empower us to be actively engaged in prevention within our own families and beyond. My goal is to start conversations by raising awareness and while that may not provide all the answers, it will intentionally break the silence and ask all of us to address the issues as a community.
Prevention starts with awareness and the willingness to raise our voices against abuse.
“We cannot end child sexual abuse with the same silence that has enabled it to become an epidemic.” – A. Simeone
If you or someone you know has experienced abuse and needs help, I am so sorry for your pain. There are resources available. Please reach out to someone you trust. There is also a free, confidential helpline available 24/7. The number is 1-866-FOR-Light. Texting LIGHT to 741-741 will also provide help. Break your own silence and allow people to help you. Recovery and healing are possible. I look forward to sharing more thoughts throughout the month. I also offer in-person trainings called Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children.
Remember — abuse lives in secrecy. It dies with awareness and a willingness to speak openly and honestly. There are many ways you can work to prevent abuse and build strong families. Join me this month as I share helpful prevention information.