By Renee Larr
On Nov. 16, Chaucie’s Place, a child advocacy organization in Hamilton County, hosted a training session for adults who work with children focusing on preventing childhood sexual abuse. The 2 1/2-hour program focused on statistics, recognizing the signs of abuse and how to assist a child who may have been abused.
“This is one of our basic ways of reaching out to the community. Child sex abuse is a really hard subject,” said Mary Armstrong-Smith, director of Programs for Chaucie’s Place.
Armstrong-Smith said one in 10 kids are sexually abused, and 90 percent of abusers are people the child knows, loves and trusts.
“I’ve done this work for years and it still gets to me. One out of 10. That’s really hard to think about. That’s why it’s so important for adults to have this training. A lot of people who are abused don’t tell. They’re afraid. We’ve been told stranger danger, but 90 percent of the time it’s someone you think you have the right to trust,” Armstrong-Smith said.
She said abuse can come in many ways including child-to-child abuse.
“It is surprising to some people that older children will abuse younger, less powerful children. It can happen,” she said.
In order to prevent abuse before it occurs, adults need to be willing to take a risk. Adults can report abuse without fear of retaliation as long as they’re making the report in good faith.
“We know it’s a risk to report child sex abuse, but it’s worth it,” Armstrong-Smith said.
The five steps to protecting children include learning the facts, minimizing opportunity, talking about it, recognizing the signs and reacting responsibly. To report the abuse of a child, contact the Indiana Dept. of Child Services by calling 1-800-800-5556.
For more on Chaucie’s Place, or to attend a training session, visit chauciesplace.org.