One of the highlights of last year was the privilege of serving with the 2012 Missouri Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children. On January 3, 2013 our report was sent to Governor Nixon, the General Assembly and State Board of Education, and released for all citizens. The report is about protecting children from harm and I’m sure you know we can’t dismiss the technology connection to this issue.
The report begins, “Child sexual abuse is a silent epidemic in Missouri and throughout the nation.” This subject affects us all, and we have a responsibility to protect our children. So how do you help? What can you do?
Recommendation #1 states, “Community-based child sexual abuse prevention education needs to be expanded and be comprehensive in nature.” This includes prevention education for children, parents, staff and volunteers of youth-serving organizations, schools and the community as a whole. You can find a great resource for prevention information at “StopItNow.”
You can recommend prevention training to your child’s day-care or school as well as the organization running their sports teams or other activities. Any place that you allow someone else to supervise your child, prevention training should be included.
Recommend to these organizations and agencies that they develop a policy to protect children in their care, and that all staff and participants know the policy. Also, recommend they have a plan and know what to do if there is a report of child abuse.
Know where to turn to make a report of child sexual abuse or exploitation. Each state has a child abuse hotline—know your state’s number! Every citizen has a responsibility to make a report if they suspect a child is being abused, don’t rely on others.
We need a holistic approach to keeping children safe from those who would inflict harm. This isn’t just the responsibility of those in the child protection field; it is the responsibility of all citizens. Take time to review this report and find something you can do to prevent the abuse of our children. As my friend and former Director of Training for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says “You now have been given the burden of knowledge.” I say, pass it on!!
Missouri ICAC Commander Lt. Joe Laramie (retired) provides strategies and solutions for law enforcement and schools to address policy and training on a variety of technology and child exploitation issues.