As the rape crisis center for Lee and Whiteside counties, the YWCA of the Sauk Valley would like to share information because of the area’s recent disclosures of unreported child sexual abuse.
YWCA staff make hundreds of school presentations every year, teaching children (up to age 17) about their rights to be safe from sexual abuse, and how to report it, if it does happen to them.
And those presentations are needed. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
School presentations are one side of the equation.
The other side is all of us.
We, the adults of the area, must take responsibility to act if a child discloses abuse to us. We put the “tell” message out there to our children, but we need to remember we are responsible, too, if we do nothing.
Could you imagine being a child, age 5 or 15, and having the courage and fortitude to approach an adult you believe you can trust and tell them you’ve been abused?
Now could you imagine being that child, and finding your trusted adult does nothing?
No child should have that happen. We’re their voices when they cannot speak for themselves. We’re their only link to help and to making the abuse stop.
If we, as adults, do not do our part, we’re aiding the perpetrators.
What should we do? If a child tells you he or she has been abused, listen; believe; tell.
Tell the police.
Tell DCFS (800-252-2873).
Tell until you feel you’ve been heard.
If you’re unsure of what to do or who to call, contact the YWCA of the Sauk Valley hotline, available 24 hours, at 815-626-7277 or 815-288-1011, and we’ll help you navigate.
Tell until you feel you’ve been heard. It’s the least we can do for our children.
Note to readers: Bonnie Braida is a counselor for the YWCA of the Sauk Valley.