If you follow the headlines, you know that child sexual abuse happens. It happens often and close to home. That reality can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that child sexual abuse can be prevented, when we all play our part.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and communities across the country are standing up for child sexual abuse prevention by proclaiming, “It’s time to talk about it.”
All adults have a role in child sexual abuse prevention, and this year, we encourage individuals and communities to support healthy childhood sexual development by talking early, talking often, and taking action.
By talking about healthy childhood sexual development, adults are able to support the children in their lives. When adults support age-appropriate behaviors, model healthy boundaries, and speak up to other adults, they are an ally to prevention.
It’s also our job to respect children, model healthy behaviors and boundaries, and confront adults when they act in ways that are not appropriate.
There is often silence and discomfort when it comes to the discussion of sexual development. It’s important to understand that this is a normal experience we all share. By opening up communication, sharing age-appropriate information with children, and educating one another, we are taking steps toward a safer community.
Choose to start the conversation about healthy childhood sexual development. Whether you are a parent, educator or community member, it’s time for you to start talking early and often to support an environment where children are safe. It’s time to talk about it.
For more information about child sexual abuse or the services available to those in our community, please call the YWCA at 815-625-0333.
Note to readers – Deb Walter is the education coordinator at the YWCA of the Sauk Valley.