Best Prevention for Child Sexual Abuse Is Open Communication

Nonprofit Launches #KeepKidsSafe Campaign to Get Families Talking

SEATTLE, Nov. 5, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The statistics are hard to believe. An estimated one in four girls and one in six boys is sexually abused before the age of 18*. "Child sexual abuse is pervasive, but hidden," says Joan Cole Duffell, Executive Director of Seattle-based nonprofit Committee for Children. "Yet research shows that the best way to protect children from sexual abuse is to bring it out of the shadows. If we can break the taboo of talking about it, we will take away the offenders' best defense: secrecy." Toward that end, Committee for Children is launching a six-week campaign this week called #KeepKidsSafe to:

  • Educate parents and caregivers about the importance of starting conversations with their children about sexual abuse
  • Model how to start those conversations
  • Encourage people to share what they learn with everyone they know

A series of short videos, articles, and online resources will be available to the public for free at For 35 years, Committee for Children has been researching how to protect children and promote their well-being. "We've learned that people have a hard time talking about child sexual abuse, so much so that it is vastly unreported—and yet mental health and child protection professionals agree that it's common and represents a serious national problem," says Duffell. "This campaign helps parents see that this is a basic safety conversation, not a discussion about sexuality. We want to make it easier for people to talk with their kids in a straightforward way—just like we talk about safely crossing the street or the importance of wearing a bike helmet."

Director of the University of New Hampshire's Crimes against Children Research Center David Finkelhor, Ph.D., who has been studying child victimization, child maltreatment, and family violence since 1977, says, "Many people fear that talking about child sexual abuse might unnecessarily frighten children, but research suggests that's not the case." He says some evaluation research indicates that children who are informed about child sexual abuse may be more likely to identify dangerous situations, refuse an abuser's approach, summon help, and disclose victimization attempts.
Just as public awareness campaigns helped to educate people and make it okay to talk about breast cancer, prostate cancer, and AIDS, Committee for Children hopes to educate people about child sexual abuse and how to prevent it so that, together, we can #KeepKidsSafe.

*ACF (Administration for Children and Families). (2012). Child maltreatment 2012. Retrieved from

About Committee for Children

Seattle-based nonprofit Committee for Children's research-based educational programs, including the award-winning Second Step program, teach social-emotional skills to prevent bullying, violence, and abuse and improve academics. Their curricula are used in over 26,000 schools across the United States and around the world. To learn more, go to

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