Quick quiz: what’s the best way to prevent child sexual abuse?
It’s devastating to think about, something no parent or loved one would ever want to consider. And yet thinking about how to prevent it is one of the most important things you can do.
If your answer to the question is “stranger danger,” you’re wrong. Statistics vary (based on the way the data are collected), but most reports state that between 80 and 90 percent of child sexual abuse is committed by someone known to the child and their family.
“Stranger danger” can do far more harm than good, as it can prevent a child from seeking out help from a police officer or another helpful stranger. Kids are far more likely to need help from a stranger at some point, than they are of being assaulted by one. Plus, you’re teaching them to be scared of everyone because potentially someone somewhere (unknown to them) wants to harm them. This is a problem, and damaging to a young psyche.
The statistics are staggering. It is estimated that one in five girls and one in 20 boys will be the victim of childhood sexual abuse. Those children are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted as young adults.
Lauren Book is trying to change the conversation. Herself a victim of abuse, she has created “Lauren’s Kids,” an organization working with parents and teachers to prevent child sexual abuse.
Book spoke with Huffington Post about her mission:
“It’s not about scaring children. It’s about empowering them to use their voices to stay safe. And when they can do that they begin advocating for themselves. They become better citizens. They become better classmates, better students, better kids who can use their voice and know that they can use their voice to stay safe.”
In addition to educating kids, Book and her organization are working tirelessly to advocate for abused children in Florida.
If you live in south Florida, it would be well worth your while to check out “Lauren’s Kids.” If you don’t live in Florida, you can watch Book’s TED Talk here. Most cities have research-driven, psychology-based programs to prevent child sexual abuse with messages that resonate more strongly than “stranger danger.” For your child’s sake, it’s worth looking into.
Here is a lesson from Book’s school curriculum.