Child sexual abuse happens at an alarming rate, in every neighborhood, community and state. Currently 1 in 10 children are being sexually abused before their 18th birthday. As adults, we strap our babies into car seats, we walk children across a busy street and we ask teenagers questions about where they are going and who they are going with, all to keep them safe. As adults, we should also be responsible for protecting children from sexual abuse.

PREVENTION PROGRAMS

PEOPLE, PROBLEMS & PROTECTION (PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK TO VIEW THE AVAILABLE SCHOOLS)

  • 1st Grade participants will learn about safe and unsafe touches, a safety rule regarding unsafe touches, what to do if someone tries to or does give him/her an unsafe touch, and who to tell about any unsafe touches. This information is presented in a non­threatening and developmentally appropriate way. Approximately 25 minutes in duration.

  • 3rd Grade participants will learn the skills to help keep his/her body safe from abuse. Participants will learn about safe and unsafe touches, a safety rule, what to do if someone tries to or does give him/her an unsafe touch, and that anyone, not just strangers, could give him/her an unsafe touch. This information is presented in a non-threatening and developmentally appropriate way. Approximately 50 minutes in duration.

  • This is a free program for all 1st and 3rd graders in Ottawa County.

MANDATED REPORTER TRAINING (PLEASE EMAIL AMY DALMAN TO SCHEDULE)

  • Participants will receive a Mandated Reporter Toolkit with the latest research and information related to mandated reporting practices. Participants will learn what types of concerns need to be reported and who to contact.

  • Intended for school personnel, agency professionals and community members. Approximately 1 hour in duration.

DARKNESS TO LIGHT (MUST BE 18 TO ATTEND) (PLEASE EMAIL AMY DALMAN TO SCHEDULE)

  • Intended for youth serving organizations, community members, anyone interested in keeping children safe. Participants will learn how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. It is the only nationally distributed, evidence based program proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors. Approximately 2 hours in duration.
    - We require a 10 trainee minimum for D2L presentations
    - Daycare/Preschool providers may use this training towards their licensing requirements for training hours. After completion, you are given access to an additional 3 hours of on­line training.


IT'S NEVER TO LATE TO TELL.

REVISITING THE CONVERSATION ABOUT SEXUAL ABUSE

While we present to the vast majority of elementary age children in Ottawa County, there are currently no other programs focused on child sexual abuse for older students who have never disclosed abuse or may have been abused since the elementary presentations. For this reason, we have developed a program entitled “It’s Never Too Late to Tell: Revisiting the Conversation of Sexual Abuse.” This program offers the opportunity for specially trained staff to meet with teens and review the definition of sexual abuse, discuss the prevalence of the issue, and identify the services offered in our community for victims of sexual abuse. It is our goal to empower adolescents with the information and tools necessary to feel comfortable disclosing abuse, sharing the information with a friend or family member who is a victim, making a report, and/or getting help.

The information below provides further reasoning for why it is imperative to target adolescents with this important message:

What are some of the behaviors teens might display related to undisclosed abuse?

  • Academic problems in childhood are a common symptom of sexual abuse.

  • Substance abuse problems beginning in childhood or adolescence are some of the most common consequences of child sexual abuse.

  • Delinquency and crime, often stemming from substance abuse, are more prevalent in adolescents with a history of child sexual abuse.

  • Over 70% of male child sexual abuse survivors seek treatment for issues like substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and attempted suicide.

  • The risk of teen pregnancy is much higher for girls with a history of child sexual abuse.
    Source: Darkness to Light http://bit.ly/1JC9vKH

Why don’t children tell about sexual abuse or delay telling?

  • Threats of bodily harm (to the child and/or the child’s family)

  • Fear of being removed from the home

  • Fear of not being believed

  • Shame or guilt

  • If the abuser is someone the child or the family cares about, worry about getting that person in trouble

  • Belief that the sexual abuse was their own fault and they may be fearful of getting in trouble themselves

  • Very young children may not have the language skills to communicate about the abuse or may not understand that the actions of the perpetrator are abusive.
    Source: The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

This program is provided free of charge. We would love the opportunity to present this program to your adolescent group. If you are involved in a youth group, club, school, or other group setting for teens, please contact Alli Watson at
awatson@cac-ottawa.org or 616-393-6123 to schedule.


WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT?

PHYSICAL ABUSE: Harm or threatened harm to a child through non-­accidental injury. Example: Beating, kicking, punching, burning, bruises, welts or broken bones. Also injury and medical conditions that been properly treated

NEGLET: Harm or threatened harm to a child's welfare due to failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, or medical care. (Example: Soiled clothing, wrong clothes for weather, hunger, hording food, poor hygiene, etc.) It can also be failure to renew prescriptions and not allowing schools access to medications or lack of protection from a known potential risk or harm

SEXUAL ABUSE OR EXPLOITATION: Engaging in sexual contact or penetration with a child. Sexual exploitation is defined as allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution or to be depicted in a sexual act. It also includes non­contact acts such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, exposure to pornography and obscene/sexual language. Child pornography is always child sexual abuse.

EMOTIONAL / MALTREATMENT: Treatment that involves cruelty or suffering that a reasonable person would recognize excessive. Example; forcing a child to eat dog food as punishment, locking a child in a closet, or teaching a child to assist in criminal activities. Crushing a child’s spirit by using extreme ways of punishing, threats or put downs.


WHAT IS MANDATED REPORTING?

The Facts:

  • Michigan Law requires that you MUST file a report when you have a reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect.
  • ­It is NOT your responsibility to determine whether the abuse occurred­. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for the investigative component. ­
  • Failure to report can result in both civil and criminal liability. ­
  • When a report is filed you are presumed to have acted in good faith. You are not legally or criminally liable for any outcomes if you have reported a case in good faith. ­
  • Your identity will be kept confidential unless you agree in writing to that disclosure. Your identity may be disclosed to a child protective agency or a law enforcement agency that is investigating the case. ­
  • Once you file a report, a child and family may become eligible to receive a wide variety of services to meet your family's needs.

STEPS TO TAKE IF CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT IS DETECTED

  • ­Immediately make contact with our state of Michigan centralized intake system at toll free 1-­855-­444-­3911. ­
  • To the best of your knowledge, be prepared to answer questions about the child (address, full name, birth date and race), alleged perpetrator, the child’s disclosure, and history of child’s behavior. ­
  • DO NOT investigate the matter yourself. ­
  • Within 72 hours after making the oral report, a written report must be completed. It is encouraged that you use the DHS­3200 form for the written portion. This form can be found online at www.michigan.gov/dhs and clicking the picture Abuse and Neglect. This link will take you to the printable online 3200 form found under the heading Popular Forms. After completing the 3200 it can be faxed to 616-­977-­1154.
  • ­If you are a school employee you must notify the person in charge of the school of the suspected abuse/neglect and that the report has been made with DHS.

Statewide number for DHS: 1-­855­-444­-3911

Click here to find the DHS­3200 Form: www.michigan.gov/dhs


SAFETY TIPS | EMPOWER ME!

SAFETY RULES FOR PARENTS TO SHARE WITH KIDS

  • CHECK FIRST with a parent, guardian or babysitter before
    Accepting a ride
    Accepting a gift
    Going into a house
    Having your photo taken

  • USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM. Play and stay with friends

  • FIND 5 SAFE AND TRUSTED ADULTS to talk to about any problem or worry you are having. They can be a family member, someone in school or someone in your community.

  • TRUST YOUR GUT. Pay attention to your “uh-­oh” feeling. If any person acts in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, get away and tell a safe/trusted adult. It doesn’t matter how you know them; it only matters how they make you feel. Pay attention to that same feeling when you are on­line!

  • NO SECRETS. There is never a good reason to keep a secret from mom, dad or caregiver. Birthday presents or gifts are okay. Talk about the difference between a safe and unsafe secret.

  • YOUR PRIVATE PARTS ARE PRIVATE, AND PRIVATE MEANS THAT THEY ARE JUST FOR YOU. WE DON'T SHARE THOSE PARTS, WITH FRIENDS, BROTHERS OR SISTERS, OR OTHER GROWNUPS. You have the right to say “NO” to any person trying to touch your private parts or asking you to touch theirs. If you have a question about touches, talk to a trusted adult. If the first person doesn’t believe you or know how to help you, tell someone else until the touches stop. If someone tricks you into a touch, it is NOT your fault. You can still tell, even a long time after the touching happens.

  • SAY NO, RUN AWAY AND GO TELL

  • YOU ARE SPECIAL AND DESERVE TO BE SAFE