Parents will discuss what adults can do to protect their children from child sexual abuse at a series of “Parent Cafes” entitled “Keeping Privates Private” to be held in Springfield and Holyoke throughout April.
The events, sponsored by The Prevention Collaboration – a community-based group organized out of the Family Advocacy Center at Baystate Children’s Hospital – are being held in conjunction with Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The Prevention Collaboration is dedicated to helping the community take action to prevent child sexual abuse.
Scheduled Cafes will be held on the following dates, times and locations:
April 7 – Head Start, 30 Madison Ave., Springfield, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
April. 20 – Square One, 1095 Main St., Springfield, 5 to 6:30 p.m.
April 28, HCS Head Start, 206 Maple St., Holyoke, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four girls and one in six boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before they turn 18. Sexual abuse does not discriminate – children and adolescents of all races, cultures and backgrounds are all equally susceptible to sexual abuse.
Those attending the events will receive a children’s book, “My Body Belongs To Me,” then guided through a discussion of parenting choices to use the book and help prevent child sexual abuse in their families.
In “A Letter to Grown-Ups” in her book, author Jill Starishevsky writes, “Just as we teach young people what to do in case of fire, we must teach them what to do if someone touches them inappropriately – or forces them to touch others inappropriately.” The book’s central message is “If someone touches you, tell.”
The Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime offers the following strategies on how to respond if a child tells you that he or she has been abused:
• Stay calm.
• Listen to the child’s words and expressed emotions. Believe the child and stress that his or her safety is important.
• Don’t press the child for more information.
• Reassure the child that he or she has done nothing wrong. Abuse in never a child’s fault. Remember that the people who harm children are often people who children love.
• Avoid negative comments. Encourage the child, saying that he or she did the right thing by telling and that it was brave to tell.
The Family Advocacy Center of Baystate Children's Hospital is a nationally accredited Child Advocacy Center serving children, families and communities of Western Massachusetts affected by child abuse, sexual assault or exploitation, or exposure to violence or homicide. As child abuse and domestic violence are community problems, the Family Advocacy Center coordinates child abuse and domestic violence services with numerous community partners. Staffed by physicians, psychologists, social workers, volunteers, and advocates, the center offers a variety of support including counseling, medical services, support programs, advocacy programs and victim services.
If you suspect that a child is being abused, your best action is to call the Department of Children and Families hotline at 1-800-792-5200. Other help is available by calling the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), or Stop it Now! at 1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368.
To make an appointment for therapy services at the Family Advocacy Center at Baystate Children’s Hospital, call 413-794-5555. For other services or information on the Family Advocacy Center, call 413-794-9816.
For more information on Baystate Children’s Hospital, visit baystatehealth.org/bch.