APRIL IS CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH
Did you know that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month? This month, we would like to highlight resources from several different organizations that provide important information about this topic and advocate for the prevention of child abuse altogether. We are also excited to share an interview with Kimberly Perry of We Stand Guard, a training program that educates everyone about preventing child sexual abuse and exploitation in all its forms. You can raise awareness by sharing these resources with the parents and caregivers in your life so that we can all play a role in supporting families and putting a stop to child abuse and neglect.
RESOURCES AND TOOLS FOR CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH
- Every year, the Children’s Bureau releases the Child Maltreatment Report that provides information about services offered by state and local child protective services agencies to children and families. You can view the 2021 report here.
- The CDC also provides a Fast Facts page that lists risks and protective factors as well as prevention strategies for child abuse and neglect.
- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) features comprehensive information about child sexual abuse material (CSAM), which is material that depicts the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. They have also created the CyberTipline, an online mechanism where incidents of suspected child sexual exploitation can be reported. NCMEC also created the Take It Down tool, a free service that helps individuals remove or stop the sharing of sexually explicit images or photos that were taken when the individual was under the age of 18.
- The Kids Count Data Center provides data and statistics on children, youth, and families, including demographics, economic well-being, education, health, and more. You can view data for the nation or your individual state.
- Justice U™ offers the Essential Knowledge for Addressing the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Series, a 3-part training series that equips critical roles and professions with skills to prevent and address CSEC. The series was created for those interacting with and caring for children and youth in foster care and provides 8 different role-based tracks for learners’ specific training needs.
INTERVIEW WITH KIMBERLY PERRY OF WE STAND GUARD
Kimberly is an author and elementary school educator who has taught boundaries and personal safety to over 1,000 elementary school students, which inspired her to write the Say “NO!” and TELL! books. She is a partner and friend of Engage Together, and we are so excited to feature her in this month’s blog!
What need did you see that prompted you to lean into writing these books?
When I was an elementary educator, I taught boundaries and personal body safety and wondered why I had not been taught these prevention skills when I was a child given the alarming statistics. I wondered, “how can it be” that at least 2 out of every 10 girls and 1 out of every 10 boys are estimated to be sexually abused before their 14th birthday? (childmolestationprevention.org) Every 8 minutes, Child Protective Services responds to a sexual abuse report (rainn.org). According to the CDC, about 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
All of this and more inspired me to begin We Stand Guard – Say “NO!” and TELL! Books with the audience of kids, parents, caregivers, professionals, or volunteers working with kids, including organizations. The books teach boundaries and personal body safety to help prevent child sexual abuse (CSA). As a health educator, we call it personal safety, which includes both physical and non-physical contact child sexual abuse. The goal is to empower all kids with boundaries, skills, and a voice during a questionable encounter so they know what to do.
What gaps were present in existing resources or materials, and what audiences and venues were not being reached?
When I first began researching the project in January of 2015, I ordered around 25 body safety books from Amazon dating back to the 1960s to see what had already been done. Some books had dark, shadowy characters, so my vision became to create something light, bright, and colorful while utilizing a body boundaries approach through a story and 8 scenarios to role play (which came from studying the tactics of an abuser that I turned into positive life skills such as privacy, private moments, guarding your eyes and ears, gifts vs. bribes, self-care, and online safety).
If someone is looking for a place to begin with this topic, what do you recommend?
I offer a free download gift of a personal safety family plan to get started. Also, as the founder of the We Stand Guard Program, I have written several books, including Set I and Set II with 3 Say “NO!” and TELL! books. Set I offers a health education approach for general or secular audiences (purple titles). Set II offers the same approach with information for faith-based audiences (blue titles). All books function as toolkits with options so you can choose what best fits your needs and values.
Inside the home, the Say “NO!” and TELL! children’s books teach boundaries and personal body safety.. Recommended for ages K-3rd grade (can tailor content for pre-K to 5th grade). Outside the home, the Say “NO!” and TELL! training workbook educates parents and grown-ups working with children in boundaries and personal body safety within a church, school, sport, or youth organization.
How can families and community members act now? How can they best protect the children in their communities/lives?
Begin with the free download or order the books. Then schedule a presentation (complimentary 20-minute) or training (paid 60 to 90-minute) with me!
Reading aloud a children’s book on body safety can help guide a conversation around this sensitive topic. This approach can set up successful communication with child-friendly language and in age-appropriate ways. For example, my friend read the Say “NO!” and TELL Daxton dolphin book to her son when he was around 6 or 7 years old. Afterwards, she added this book to his bookshelf. Then one morning, he began choosing the Say “NO!” and TELL to read with her during the drive to school and asked her questions amidst conversation.
We hope you visit We Stand Guard to learn more about Kimberly’s resources today, and we encourage you to find ways to implement the information and resources we’ve shared in this blog to help prevent child abuse in your community too.