Ending Child Sexual Abuse
Our Future Begins by Ending Child Sexual Abuse
A world where children can grow, free from harm. Sound good? We get there when we focus on prevention of child sexual abuse. It begins with adults and communities taking responsibility for prevention, rather than placing the burden on children to protect themselves. It requires institutional leadership in breaking the silence, speaking out against abuse and adopting policies and practices that protect the children in their care.
In supporting a mosaic of strategies to address this issue, the Ms. Foundation for Women is showing that prevention is possible, and that we each have a role to play in ending child sexual abuse. Indeed, we need not look any further than the Catholic Church and Penn State to see that this problem is bigger than any one person or organization. And that this problem requires a broad-based movement. Together, with diverse partners--from parents to activists to policymakers--we are working towards a future where women and children control every aspect of their lives and bodies, and where families, communities and institutions assume responsibility for ending child sexual abuse.
Taboo No More
In recent years, child sexual abuse has come out from the shadows of secrecy into fuller view. No longer hidden in locker rooms, or simply whispered at family gatherings, we as a society are coming to terms that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. The Ms. Foundation has long recognized that child sexual abuse is embedded into many intractable social issues facing families and communities. Yet, with the exception of high-profile cases, there are few headlines, and little thoughtful discourse about child sexual abuse. And the typical story told by the media"ends" when the offenders are brought to "justice."
At the Ms. Foundation, we believe true justice is prevention. That's why our approach goes well beyond simply naming the issue and treating the symptoms of the problem.
Prevention is Possible
The Ms. Foundation is taking a lead role to end child sexual abuse. Through our support of grantees at the local, state and national level, and by advocating for change ourselves, we're helping advance prevention policies that hold leaders accountable and ensure that children are safe in the places they live, learn and play.
The strategies we support offer innovative and practical approaches to prevention, and ignite lasting cultural change. We're engaging survivors of child sexual abuse, communities of color, and disability rights activists to ensure the voices and perspectives of those who are most, or uniquely, impacted are driving the change toward ending abuse. And we're elevating best practices in the field, from arts activism to state-wide campaigns, speaking out to make sure prevention is in the headlines and on policymakers' agendas. There is much more to do around ending child sexual abuse, and we are paving the road to getting it done.
This paper outlines the factors that make child sexual abuse such a difficult problem to address, and outlines ways to change attitudes, policies, and community dynamics so that we can successfully prevent abuse.