Together We Can Prevent the Sexual Abuse of Children
Conversations in Prevention
Dear Prevention Community,

Typically, concerned adults wait to bring up the subject of sexual abuse and prevention until there is a “reason” – a warning sign, a suspicion, maybe even a disclosure. Who wants to talk about this stuff unless you have to, right? However, waiting until there is a reason is not enough. In order to be vigilant and caring parents, caregivers or youth educators, we have to raise the topic of what we can do to keep children safe before there is a concern, a warning sign or even a “feeling” that something is wrong.

If we raise the topic before there is any cause to be worried about a specific concern, we have a better chance of having a conversation that is not blaming, shaming or confrontational, and that opens the door to planning for safety – rather than reacting to concerns later. Also, it’s just plain easier to talk about this issue before we have to ask someone about his or her behavior – or is it?

How do you actually start this type of conversation, without having a specific incident or behavior that you want to address? If you’re a parent, how do you start talking to the other adults in your child’s life about how to make your child’s life as safe as possible? What if you want to talk to your colleagues – maybe even your supervisor – about how to create safe environments for kids you work with? 

Presumably, the person you want to talk to about keeping children safe wants the same thing you do – to help kids live free of sexual harm. So beginning your conversation with, “I know that you care about (our) kids’ safety as much as I do,” is a great way to start, and acknowledges this common ground and shared value.  

Recently, we asked our Helpline consultants what words they offer to parents and other concerned adults to start off a conversation about sexual abuse prevention. In addition to calling out the shared hope for children’s safety, our Helpline consultants submitted these examples:

  • “I saw this piece on the news today about child sexual abuse and that got me thinking about safety.”
  • “When I was a kid my mom never talked to me about healthy sexuality, but I want us to be more accessible as parents so our kids feel comfortable asking us anything.” 
  • “I wanted to talk to you about body boundaries because my kids really look up to you and want to emulate everything you do.”
  • “I know this feels out of the blue, but I think it’s really important that we talk about what family safety planning rules we have in our house so that my kids are getting the same message from everyone in their lives.”
Just starting the conversation is half the battle. There are a lot of ways to share your commitment to sexual abuse prevention, and if you need help – we’re here for you. Once you start talking about prevention, you’ll find allies and partners. Prevention necessitates conversations about children’s sexual safety. You can begin the conversation today.


Jenny Coleman
Quote of the Month
"Thank you so much for your reply. I am so glad I reached out and your responses are full of great questions, resources, and thoughtful ideas… I will continue to increase my children's awareness and reinforce family rules and safety around their bodies." - Grateful Parent who contacted the Helpline

To read this parent’s inquiry to the Helpline, click here .
Spotlight: Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. It’s easy to see why having conversations early with children is essential when you learn the statistics: children’s sexually inappropriate behaviors peak between 12 to 14 years old , and similarly, violent behavior in youth also typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18 . Sexual violence prevention depends on teaching our young people not only how other people should be interacting with them, but how they should be interacting with their peers, friends and partners. The Stop It Now! Helpline hear from so many worried parents and caregivers whose child or teen, after watching pornography, is now acting out mature and often sexually aggressive behaviors with their peers – often by force. It’s important that young people get accurate information about sex, consent and relationships from healthy and appropriate sources, and that they have somewhere to turn when something feels scary or out of control for them. In fact, children who have experienced victimization of any kind are more vulnerable to further harm – which means that child sexual abuse survivors may be at a higher risk to experience teen dating violence. When we have these difficult conversations with youth about healthy sexual behavior and relationships, we’re not only reducing the risk for child sexual abuse, but for teen dating violence too. Moreover, we’re equipping them with the tools they need to grow up into healthy adults, who have safe and loving relationships. To learn more about teen dating violence prevention, check out the resources below.

We want to hear from you!
What prompts you to have a conversation about sexual abuse prevention and safety planning before there are warning signs in a person or situation? Click below to share your thoughts.

Everyone who takes the survey will be entered into a drawing to win a $25 credit redeemable on our website for an on-demand training video .
Conversations We're Having
Learn About Safety Planning
Did you miss our January webinar, “Dear Stop It Now!, Nothing has happened...yet. How do I keep it that way?” You can still view it and our other past webinars here. This most recent webinar focused on primary prevention, and how to both develop and talk about family safety plans as a prevention tool.
Join Us in May
May 7-8, 2019, Stop It Now! will present Circles of Safety: Awareness to Action for Professionals Working with Parents and Professional Caregivers, with a Train the Trainer optional 2nd day. If you work in a professional environment serving youth and families, consider joining us to learn how to make your environment safer for your clients – and your programs.
Conversations to Share
TEDxMileHigh Talk
Dr. Apryl Alexander, member of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, recently gave a TEDxMileHigh Talk, “Sexual violence is preventable – here’s how”. Her presentation is inspiring, as it illustrates how critical it is to teach youth basic sex ed, affirmative consent education and the laws around issues such as sexting. She points out that youth charged with sexual misconduct behaviors are often receiving sex ed AFTER they’ve been convicted of a crime. This talk is a great tool to share in conversations about how we can implement prevention education in our youth’s environments, such as schools. 
Global Index on Responses to Sexual Abuse & Exploitation
The Oak Foundation (one of Now!s generous funders), along with the Worldwide Childhood Foundation and The Economist Intelligence Unit recently released an exciting new tool in prevention. They developed the first-ever global index on how countries and industries are responding to sexual abuse and exploitation. This index, entitled Out of Shadows: Shining Light on the Response to Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, is a valuable advocacy tool can help us assess and improve the safety of children everywhere.
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