Hudson Valley Parent

HVP March 2017

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30 Hudson Valley Parent n March 2017 neighbors) and about 30 percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are related to the victim. In addition to the assault at the li- brary, a family member also fondled me as a child. It was clearly sexual. I was nine years old. Young enough to feel powerless to stop him, but old enough to be conscious that what was happening to me was wrong. Still, I kept silent. Research conducted by the Cen- ters for Disease Control and Preven- tion(CDC) estimates that approxi- mately one in six boys and one in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. In a 2012 report noted on the Dru Sjodin National Sex Of- fender Public Website (NSOPW), 26 percent of sexual abuse victims are 12 -14 years old and 34 percent are younger than 9 years. Building awareness early First, become informed. When I was growing up sexual abuse wasn't given media attention, it wasn't looked for, it wasn't discussed. Now there is awareness and attention from the media, schools and social services. Parents can be trained to look for signs, and children can be taught about rejecting and reporting inappropriate behavior. Erin's Law makes child sex abuse prevention education mandatory in schools, starting with kindergarten. On December 10, 2015 President Obama signed SB1117, giving feder- al funding for Erin's Law. As of June 2015, Erin's Law is in 26 states and pending in 17 more, including New York. Each year the Personal Safety Pro- gram of the Center for Prevention of Childhood Abuse in Dutchess County provides sexual abuse prevention education to more than 15,000 chil- dren using interactive discussions and age-appropriate materials. The program helps children dis- SEXUAL ABUSE (Continued from Page 28) tinguish between affectionate and inappropriate touches and instructs them on how and what to do if someone breaks the "private part rules." What a parent can do Amy Quinn, director of education- al services with The Center for Pre- vention of Child Abuse, advises par- ents to create openings for dialogue by asking their children what they would do in different situations such as: "What would you do if someone started touching you in ways you did not like?" and "What if you were told to keep a bad secret?" She says it is important to empha- size to children that there are only potentially three legitimate reasons that a trusted adult with a parent's permission would have cause to look at or touch a child's private areas: health, hygiene or for a tick/safety check. "It's important for parents to point out adults your children would feel comfortable talking to if they had a problem," Quinn says. "Remind them it is never their fault if they are tricked into a touch. If your child discloses information to you regard- ing something that may have hap- pened, remain calm, believe what they tell you, support your child's feelings, assure them they did the right thing by telling you, and report concerns to proper authorities." "Our educators also instruct fourth and fifth grade students regarding Internet safety, cyberbul- lying, and sexting," Quinn explains. "Sixth grade students receive an hour presentation on Internet safety and sexting, which are growing in- creasingly more prevalent with rapid advances in technology." National statistics According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, approxi- mately 150,000 adult sex offenders are currently in state and federal prisons throughout the United States. Between 10,000 and 20,000 are released from jail - and back into communities across the country - each year Parents need to be aware that the Internet gives sexual predators increased opportunities -- and ano- nymity -- to search out new victims. The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website states the most common form of contact is via online chat rooms, and one in 25 youths asked reported they had received an online sexual solicitation in which the solicitor tried to make plans to meet in person. The Personal Safety Program advises parents to establish Internet house rules: Never meet anyone in person whom you've only met online, and don't post your full name or divulge personal information such as where you live or attend school. It is also important to monitor your child's social media use and point out the photographs that might unintentionally reveal identifying information. The New York state Division of Criminal Justice Services also main- tains a website with a registry of convicted sex offenders: Arming yourself with information and keeping an open dialogue with your children are the best steps to take in keeping them safe. Linda Freeman is a Hudson Valley writer, yoga instructor and swing dance teacher. She has been a contributor to Hudson Valley Parent since 2014. Does your child lay mute at night replay- ing episodes she is too ashamed or terrified to reveal? Does she think she is protecting some- one by not reporting abuse?

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