Welcome to April - home of April Fools' Day, April showers (they bring May flowers). Easter, Passover and, since 1983, the congressionally-designated Child Abuse Prevention Month. You can read about the history of CAPM here
. Anyone who knows me knows that, to me, EVERY month is Child Abuse Prevention Month - every day, every hour, every minute. The fabric of Child Abuse Prevention Month - getting educated on the facts, understanding the risks, learning how each and every one of us adults can prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child abuse - needs to be woven into our thinking, throughout our culture, so that the choices we make on behalf of children best protect them. This is not a 30 day endeavor - it's 24/7, a life-long commitment. Darkness To Light uses a seat-belt analogy to explain this best: when cars were first invented, there was no such thing as a seat belt. But after seeing accidents happen, injuries and death occurring, the seat belt idea was born. At first, seat belts in cars were an option - people had to pay extra and request to have them and only those who wanted them (or could afford them) had them installed. When it was understood just how many lives could be saved with their use, seat belts became more and more popular until one day, they were mandated. Then, not only were they mandated to be in each and every auto, but it was also required in many places that people buckle up ("click it or ticket"). Wearing seat belts, proven to save lives and reduce injuries, had gone from nonexistence to a piece of our social and cultural fabric. As more and more people got on board, social and cultural change occurred. Now, very few people venture into their cars without buckling up, as one would hope it would be.
It's no different for preventing child sexual abuse. Child protection policies regarding CSA haven't always existed in schools and other youth-serving organizations, but slowly, as it becomes clear that there are tools for prevention, recognition and response, and that those are effective tools, our culture is changing. S-L-O-W-L-Y. There is still plenty of denial, plenty of choices that don't put the children first, plenty of folks who want to look the other way or point fingers after the fact, but there are also, now, adults, and many of them, who are "getting it." Each and every adult trained in abuse prevention brings to his or her community the benefits of that education, be it in working to put in place effective policies for their faith organizations, their schools, scouts, sports or arts orgs., or effective policies for themselves and how they manage their home lives and interactions with their neighbors and friends. In fact, neighbors who sit and talk about abuse and how they can work together to prevent it are the rungs in the ladder toward reaching the cultural change we need to optimally keep kids safe.
So, to all of you I say, please, this April, take the time to learn how to prevent abuse. Share what you learn with your adult friends. Talk to your neighbors, talk to your local youth-serving organization leaders, talk to your community leaders. Talk, too, with your children, at an age-appropriate level, about abuse, boundaries, bodies. Let them know that no one has the right to do certain things to them, to ask them to keep secrets from you and that if anything happens to them, they need to tell you, you will believe them and you will make it stop. I encourage you to check out www.DarknessToLight.org
- they are information-rich sites that can help you towards this end. Take an abuse prevention training, online or in-person. Both sites have resources to enable you to take trainings with ease. If you will be in the Boston area on April 10, please contact me at KissesFromDolce@gmail.com
and register to take, for free, the 2.5 hour, award-winning Stewards of Children training. It is the only 3rd party evaluated, evidence-based child sexual abuse prevention training for adults in the U.S. and it was the 2007 Crime Prevention Program of the Year for the National Crime Prevention Council. 2.5 hours, for free - aren't your children worth that?
(seat belt sign courtesy of PhotoBucket HEYxCOURTNEY)