Silent, No More (Part 2): What Parents Can Do

By: Roshanda Pratt

April is Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Prevention Month. Last month, I shared with you why we cannot remain silent about this issue any longer.  Did you know that according to experts, ONLY 1 out of 10 sexually abused children will come forward and tell someone about it? This means that even your well-meaning child whom you already had a discussion with about safe and unsafe touch, might not speak to you if they become a victim of sexual assault.

As a mother of three young children, I am always rehearsing and talking with them about stranger danger, as well as the danger that could happen with the very people they know.  A scary thought, I know, but we cannot live in fear; we MUST be proactive.  Rosalyn Moses, Executive Director of the Family Resource Center trains and equips teachers, counselors, parents and children on this topic. She says we must first begin by talking to our children about sexuality and sexual abuse in age-appropriate terms. Ms. Moses says by doing so, it teaches children that it is okay to talk to you when they have questions.

Here is how the conversation should go:

  • Credit: Michal Marcol

    Credit: Michal Marcol

    Teach children the names of their body parts, not nick names, so they have the language to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts.

  • Teach children that some parts of their bodies are private.
  • Let them know people should not be touching or looking at their private parts unless they need to touch them to provide care.
  • If someone does need to touch them in those private areas, a parent or trusted caregiver should be there too.
  • Tell children that if someone tried to touch those private areas or wants to look at them, or if someone tries to show the child their own private parts, they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.
  • ALL children should be told that it’s okay to say “no” to touches that make them uncomfortable or if someone is touching them in ways that make them uncomfortable that they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.
  • Don’t try to put all this information into one big “talk” about sex.
  • Be interested in your child’s activities by asking questions about their day.
  • Talk about the media, especially if your child watches a lot of television or plays video games. Use these opportunities to start up conversations about sexuality and sexual abuse.
  • Know the other adults that your child may talk to.
  • Be available, spend time with your child and let them know they can come to you if they have questions or if someone is talking to them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Ms. Moses also adds, “When you empower your child to say ‘NO’ to unwanted touch and teach them that they can come to you with questions and concerns, you take critical steps to preventing child sexual abuse.”

As parents, the best we can ever do for our children is prepare them.  While I would hope that no child would ever have to deal with the trauma of sexual violence, it is still a dark reality. However, if we take the time to shed light on it now, we can eventually eradicate this epidemic from our community.

Want to know more? All of the statewide Child Advocacy Centers are available for training. You can locate a local CAC by visiting www.scmcac.org.  If you are a victim or need to find a rape crisis center, you can find one your area by going to www.sccadvasa.org.

Silent, No More

By: Roshanda Pratt

Before we welcome April, I want to briefly recognize International Women’s Month, which was celebrated in March.  So here is a cyber high five to all the women out there making their world more fabulous!  I also wanted to talk about a cause which overwhelmingly effects, but is not limited to, women.  According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network), every 2 minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. This means that the woman or man in front of you at the grocery store, in your office or next to you at church may have been a victim of sexual assault. The problem of sexual assault is an epidemic in our country, our state, and more specifically, our community. We have all read the headlines of a young child assaulted by a family member or friend.

According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), in 2011 more than 5-thousand victims of sexual assault in South Carolina received services from the 16 sexual assault centers across the state.  According to experts, 85% of victims know their perpetrator. And according to the SC DHEC, predators are not just the stereotypical males; female perpetrators are on the rise, victimizing both male and female children.

Credit: Michal Marcol

Credit: Michal Marcol

Sexual abuse is not just a cultural or socioeconomic problem.  It transcends all economic, geographic, race and class barriers.  Cases of abuse can be found in large and small families, in cities and in rural communities, and in homes, schools, churches and even businesses. Sexual abuse is not just something that is played out on NBC’s Law & Order. It is not just something you read about. It is happening to the people we love and we cannot afford to remain silent any longer.

There is a battle going on to protect children from sexual violence. Allies are working hard across our state to make sure the issue remains in the public eye.  One of those allies is The Family Resource Center of Kershaw and Lee Counties.  The mission of the Family Resource Center for Abuse Prevention and Counseling is two-fold:

The agency is committed to social change by raising awareness of the causes and consequences of abuse and violence in our community.  As a victim-centered organization, the Family Resource Center provides quality counseling and support services to child and adult survivors of emotional, physical and sexual trauma along with their family members.

I became a board member of The Family Resource Center last year and I have seen the importance of this agency in our community.  The Family Resource Center provides FREE services such as counseling and forensic interviews which are later used in cases to prosecute the offenders. The Center provides educational services to churches and schools on how to report and prevent abuse, rape crisis and teen prevention. Volunteers  rally for more statewide support, partner with community agencies, and leave their warm beds in the middle of the night to sit with victims at the hospital, all while dealing with an increasingly shrinking budget mostly comprised of grants.  Rosalyn Moses, the Executive Director for The Family Resource Center is a gem in the crown of protecting children.  Her passion, commitment and hard work cannot be compared. She is a champion for this cause and South Carolina is blessed to have her on its team.  Rosalyn does not just sit behind a desk. No, she is putting her feet to the ground, speaking with victims, law enforcement and anyone who has an ear about the importance of this issue.

Let’s face the reality here. This issue is not going away for a myriad of reasons which include, but are not limited to, our over-sexed society, the lack of respect for human life and the cycle of abuse that continues without people receiving the healing they so desperately need.

The Family Resource Center is important to victims as it serves as a place of refuge.  We need places like The FRC in our community. So, how can you get involved? I am so glad you asked.

  • Volunteer at a local child advocacy center.
  • Make a financial donation; either a 1 time donation, regularly, or via United Way.
  • Request for training and other education programs for your place of worship, school or agency.
  • Speak out! Tell your friends, family, and co-workers that violence against children is not tolerated. Become a champion for the cause.

I believe as a community of women it is our responsibility to be our sisters’ and yes, even our brothers’ (young boys are victims of abuse too) keepers.  We cannot remain silent. In this case silence is not golden; it is deadly. The louder the more of us speak, people will eventually have to listen.

April is Child Abuse & Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In a few weeks, I will share with parents what you need to know to prevent sexual abuse.