WASHINGTON -- WUSA9 and reporter Peggy Fox hosted a free workshop to teach adults how to recognize, prevent and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
"After covering many stories of child abuse, I wanted to be part of a solution, to help educate people, because that's the only way to stop it," said Fox.
Jennifer Alvaro, clinical social worker and expert in child sex abuse prevention, led Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children workshop for interested adults.
Many had seen Fox's investigative WUSA9 Original report on child sex abuse in which three survivors of an abuser were interviewed. The case exemplified the manipulation abusers often use with children.
Child sex abuse is at crisis levels. One in ten children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Most never tell. That's because 90 percent of the time, they are abused by someone they know -- 30 percent of the time it's a family member.
"The good news is that most child sex abuse is preventable," said Alvaro. The training includes a powerful video in which survivors explain the details of what happened to them. Each case shows how the abuser gained access to the child by gaining the trust of the adults around the child.
People taking the course learn 5 steps to protecting children.
- Knowing the facts. 1 in 10 children are sexually abused before their 18 birthday. 90 percent will be abused by someone their know.
- Minimizing opportunity: Eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations. Have a policy or code or conduct and prevention training.
- Talk about it. Have age-appropriate conversations with your children about their bodies, boundaries and sex.
- Recognize the signs. Emotional and behavioral signs are common.
- React responsibly. When a child disclosed abuse, say, "I believe you. it's not your fault." To respond with disbelief can be even more traumatizing for the child. Report a disclosure of sex abuse immediately to police. You do not need proof to make a report.
You can take the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children courses online at no cost by using the code FlipTheSwitch. The #FlipTheSwitch campaign was inspired by gymnast Aly Raisman and calls for all adults involved in youth sports to complete the Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® training, the leading child sexual abuse prevention program in the country.