Focus on preventing sex abuse
What's clear following the release of the Louis Freeh report on the scandal at Penn State is that adults could have protected children from being sexually abused but failed. Now, it is time to move beyond blame and call on our community to prevent any more children from being sexually abused. Research shows that children are most likely to be abused by someone they know. But it still can be hard for us to recognize when someone we know could also be acting sexually inappropriate or abusive toward children. We may ignore gut feelings or deny the possibility because the person in question is well-respected or likeable. Meanwhile, too many children are harmed by sexual abuse because we — as individuals, organizations and communities — are afraid to be wrong and don't know what to do. Most of us don't know how to raise the issue or with whom we'd even talk about it. Some ways to prevent child sexual abuse include talking with children about what an appropriate touch is, respecting a child's personal space boundaries and teaching children to report right away if another person has been asking them to keep secrets. And if a child shares some concerns with you, be sure to listen.If you suspect that a child you care about is in danger of sexual abuse, Sunrise of Pasco is available to help you make choices and give appropriate referrals. Our hotline is (352)521-3120. Michelle Crowder-Soellner Dade City
The writer is social change community organizer for Sunrise of Pasco County Inc.