New Research Provides Insight and Recommendations for Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

New Research Provides Insight and Recommendations for Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

Denver (Nov. 10, 2021) – New research from Illuminate Colorado (Illuminate) examines data and trends related to child sexual abuse in Colorado and presents recommendations for preventing abuse statewide. The study also highlights known solutions to the problem of child sexual abuse for parents, professionals and policy makers alike. 

“We have a responsibility to help all children reach their full potential,” said Jade Woodard, executive director of Illuminate. “Ultimately, building awareness, knowledge, skills and confidence with adults, who are supported by communities, systems and policies to create safe environments, leverages the best of the evidence and expertise available and can result in the prevention of child sexual abuse.”

As part of the study, Illuminate surveyed Coloradans attitudes, knowledge and behaviors related to the prevention of child sexual abuse, analyzed child welfare data in Colorado and estimated the financial impact associated with the problem. From January of 2014 through December 2020 alone, more than 7,400 children in Colorado were identified as having been sexually abused, with an estimated financial cost of $1.5 billion to support these children on their journey toward healing. 

The survey of Coloradan found several opportunities to prevent child sexual abuse through awareness efforts including a concerning lack of use of anatomically correct terms for body parts with children. This language used around children at the earliest of ages promotes positive body image, self-confidence and parent-child communication, all important factors to preventing child sexual abuse. The use of anatomically correct terms also discourages abusers and in the event of abuse, anatomically correct terms help children and adults navigate the disclosure and forensic interview process.

Some key findings:

  • Less than half of parents (47%) say they typically use anatomically correct terms 
    • When informed that using these terms is a way to prevent child sexual abuse, 71% of parents said they would consider using anatomical terms. 
    • It is particularly important to reach men aged 18-54 with this information given that less than half of men (42%) reported using the proper terms.

“We’ve repeatedly heard stories that affirm the need to have clear and thoughtful ongoing conversations with children, starting before they are even verbal. Sex offenders report that when children used the proper words for their private parts, it was a deterrent. They knew those kids were having open conversations with trusted adults,” said Margaret M. Ochoa, child sexual abuse prevention specialist with the Colorado Department of Public Safety and cochair of the Colorado Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Coalition.

  • Survey results showed that while nearly half of parents (49%) did not have “the talk” with their parents when they were growing up, 66% of parents plan to have ongoing conversations with their children about sex or puberty. 

“This is a positive indication that generational attitudes are shifting in a way that supports the prevention of child sexual abuse,” said Woodard. “ But we still have a long way to go. What this study does show is that awareness and recognition of how we prevent child sexual abuse makes a difference.”

Recommendations for creating a Colorado where children grow up free from sexual abuse also highlighted in the brief include: 

  1. Funding strategic multi-year public awareness campaigns reaching all Coloradans to shift the norms related to child sexual abuse prevention.
  2. Training adults on their collective responsibility to prevent, recognize and respond to child sexual abuse.
  3. Expanding learning opportunities to support adults in building skills and confidence in approaching conversations about child sexual abuse prevention.
  4. Continuing to identify, engage in, and support policies and system improvements to prevent initial occurrence or reoccurrence of child sexual abuse.

Restoring Funding

Beginning in 2015, state General Fund resources had been addressing the need for adult education about child sexual abuse prevention through the The Colorado Child Abuse Prevention Trust Fund. However, when tough budget choices needed to be made in 2020, the yearly $250,000 funding was cut. While Colorado has a brighter financial outlook than at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, General Fund resources were not restored during the 2021 session despite being amended into the House version of the budget. Restoring general fund investments in the Colorado Children’s Trust Fund for successful child sexual abuse prevention programs allows the state to build from a place of strength and documented impact—ensuring Colorado children and families benefit from proven programming.

The Issue Brief “Creating a Colorado Where Children Grow Up Free From Sexual Abuse: An Issue Brief on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse in Colorado.” was made possible, in large part, through the support of The Colorado Child Abuse Prevention Trust Fund in the Office of Early Childhood at the Colorado Department of Human Services, and in collaboration with well informed by experts and advocates who make up the Coalition.

Background on the Research 

Child welfare data and trends in Colorado are examined in the brief. For the five years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children who were sexually abused had steadily risen in Colorado. From January 2014 through December 2020, more than 7,400 children in Colorado have been identified as sexual abuse victim/survivors. In 2020 alone, a year when reports of child maltreatment were dramatically down as a result of the pandemic, and subsequent quarantine and stay-at-home orders, over 1,000 substantiated reports  of child sexual abuse were made through the child welfare system in Colorado. Unfortunately, this does not account for all of the children who have not yet been identified. 

  • National research has shown that almost 73% of child victims don’t disclose their abuse to anyone for at least one year, 45% don’t tell anyone for almost five years, and many never disclose at all, making it difficult to confront the problem.  

The impact of trauma at a young age can last a lifetime, particularly without support and community programs to aid the process of healing. It is estimated that the average lifetime cost of sexual abuse per survivor is over $210,000. The brief estimates the financial price tag to support the Colorado children on their journey toward healing since 2014 at more than $1.5 billion.

Awareness & Social Norms

RECOMMENDATION 1: Fund strategic multi-year public awareness campaigns reaching all Coloradans to shift the norms related to child sexual abuse prevention by:

• Raising awareness among all adults of the need to model consent, healthy touch and safe, respectful ways to interact with children;
• Raising awareness among parents of the need to use anatomically correct terms with children; and
• Raising awareness among parents and caregivers of the positive norm of having ongoing conversations about healthy development.

Training & Practice

RECOMMENDATION 2: Train adults on their collective responsibility to promote healthy child development and prevent, recognize and respond to child sexual abuse by:
• Promoting training to parents, caregivers, professionals and community members to become better equipped to promote healthy development and prevent, recognize, and respond to child sexual abuse;
• Institutionalizing training with early childhood professionals to deepen understanding of healthy childhood development to be inclusive of sexual development;
• Collaborating with various communities impacted by disproportionate rates of child sexual abuse and counties with higher combined six-year rates of child sexual abuse; and
• Increasing knowledge of parents, caregivers, professionals and community members to identify and address vulnerable situations and environments involving older youth or youth in a position of power.

Training & Practice

RECOMMENDATION 3: Expand learning opportunities to support adults in building skills and confidence in approaching conversations about child sexual abuse prevention by:
• Integrating the formation of language, scripting, and practice into training courses
when appropriate to include terms and phrases adults can use when having discussions with family, friends, neighbors, and community members on creating safe environments and
• Expanding access to opportunities for families, including training and resources, on
having conversations with children on healthy development and sexuality of power.

Policy & Systemic Recommendations

RECOMMENDATION 4: Continue to identify, engage in, and support policies and system improvements to prevent initial occurrence or reoccurence of child sexual abuse by:
• Supporting organizations that serve children and youth in identifying needed policy changes to prevent child sexual abuse;
• Building the five “Protective Factors” in and around all families;
• Expanding comprehensive sexual education in Colorado as an additional means to prevent child sexual abuse;
• Promoting coordinated and innovative research efforts to better understand the incidence and prevalence of child sexual abuse in Colorado; and
• Continuing the Colorado Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Coalition.

Creating a Colorado Where Children Grow Up Free From Sexual Abuse: An Issue Brief on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse in Colorado examines data and trends related to child sexual abuse in Colorado, highlights efforts to prevent this trauma and presents recommendations to advance prevention statewide.

This publication was made possible, in large part, with the support of the Colorado Child Abuse Prevention Trust Fundin the Office of Early Childhood at the Colorado Department of Human Services, members of the Colorado Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Coalition and research conducted by Vitale & Associates, in partnership with WPA Intelligence.


During my 30 years serving children and families, I have developed a deep appreciation and understanding of community prevention efforts to reduce child abuse. Child sexual abuse is among the most egregious events that can happen to a child, and the report released today by Illuminate Colorado provides new insights into what we all can do to help prevent such tragedies. The Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman is appreciative of the information gathered by Illuminate and supports their recommendation of investing in strategies that can build strong community awareness around this issue.

Stephanie Villafuerte

Child Protection Ombudsman of Colorado

Illuminating Child Care is Expanding to the San Luis Valley

Illuminating Child Care is Expanding to the San Luis Valley

Over the course of the next couple of months, the Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley is taking Acorn – Illuminate’s newest renovated RV providing on-site child care – on a tour of the San Luis Valley, stopping at locations that are helping to strengthen families–like recovery and treatment centers–to showcase this exciting new service that is by the people of the Valley, for the people of the Valley.

“The Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley envisions a community where all members prioritize and invest in our children to build a thriving society. This means supporting families and meeting them where they are. We strive to support parents’ health & wellbeing so they can in turn support optimal development of their children. What many of our families with high needs require is timely and coordinated services and this on-site child care classroom does just that! In partnership with Illuminate Colorado and our local service providers, we can make a difference in our community. We are excited to be able to pilot this greatly needed service in the San Luis Valley,” said Sherri Valdez, executive director of the Early Childhood Council San Luis Valley.

The early years of life – from belly to age eight – are very important for learning and development. That’s because during the first few years, children’s brains are developing fast. In fact, more than one million new brain connections form every second! Because of this, the experiences and relationships that young children have in the early years can impact them for life.

When families struggling to manage life’s challenges and the demands of raising children are also faced with the challenge of finding high quality child care, it can stand in the way of strengthening families. In fact, studies have shown difficulty finding child care is a stronger predictor of maternal neglect than almost any other factor, including mental health, severity of drug use, history of abuse as a child & use of public assistance.(1) This is why Illuminating Child Care is such an innovative and essential part of solving the child care crisis in Colorado.

Beginning with Honey last year servicing the Denver Metro area, Illuminate unveiled the first innovative on-site child care classroom.  “As a single mother, and as a single mother in recovery, the greatest barrier to me being able to complete those tasks that I need to complete and stay on track would be child care,” said Karie, one of several parents who depended on Illuminating Child Care when Honey first hit the road. “Honey is allowing me, as a mother, to stay on top of those other parts of my life so well.” A year later, we’re expanding to the San Luis Valley thanks in large part to the leadership of the Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley.

The cornerstone of Illuminating Child Care is its renovated RVs, which serve as on-site child care classrooms providing drop-in care for young children. Acorn was created with its fun-loving squirrels and custom features designed with healthy child development in mind.

Children learn through play, and creating a classroom that offers hands-on manipulation, role-play and practice, free choice, cooperation, and decision-making experiences serve just this purpose. Age and developmental appropriate items, such as climbing stairs, the book nook, and the toddler potty and sink, were designed around a young child’s unique needs.

Parents and caregivers will be able to drop off their young children at partner locations and feel confident that the teachers on Acorn will help their little ones learn and grow while they are getting the support they need to strengthen their families.

“We are so excited about this next phase of Illuminating Child Care and the partnership with the San Luis Valley. It takes all of us to create brighter childhoods for all children in Colorado and, together, we can take some of the weight off of our parents’ shoulders as they are working to tackle some really hard challenges,” said Patsy Bruce, child care manager at Illuminate Colorado.

Become an Illuminating Child Care Partner

Download the Illuminating Child Care San Luis Valley Informational Flyer.



1 Cash, S. J., & Wilke, D. J. (2003). An ecological model of maternal substance abuse and child neglect: Issues, analyses, and recommendations. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 73(4), 392-404; Yang, M. Y., & Maguire-Jack, K. (2016). Predictors of basic needs and supervisory neglect: Evidence from the Illinois Families Study. Children and Youth Services Review, 67, 20-26.

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Circle of Parents Is Not Just for the Parents

Circle of Parents Is Not Just for the Parents

Finding community can sometimes be difficult, especially in a rural setting. From getting answers to all your parenting questions to something as simple as finding a babysitter, it’s helpful to have a group of people you can go to for support. For one mother in Conifer, Colorado, finding that community has come through Circle of Parents.

Photo by Amy Johnson Photography

Jen Wilson was ecstatic when she first heard about Circle of Parents starting up in Conifer. Her kids had already been involved in early-childhood programming through Mountain Resource Center (MRC), so when it was announced that MRC would be hosting a Circle of Parents group for the community, she jumped at the chance to get connected to other parents in the area.

Through Circle of Parents, Wilson said she was able to find a group of like-minded parents. She also quickly realized how beneficial this group could be for her kids. “It became really important to me immediately and I saw the social emotional component of Circle and the work that those kids do in just playing with each other and being engaged. My son is on the autism spectrum…and we were really hoping to develop some of those social emotional skills, and Circle was actually a better place to do that than the school. It was worthwhile and everyone saw the value.”

Soon after joining Circle of Parents, MRC asked Wilson to be a parent lead and, when in-person meetings weren’t an option due to COVID-19, she began co-facilitating a virtual group. “Being able to go virtual has been critical,” said Wilson. “It helped to keep everyone in touch. It’s kept us feeling supported during a really weird year.” Throughout the pandemic, Wilson’s group was able to continue meeting to support each other, help each other out when needs arose, and figure out things like how to keep their kids socialized. More recently, the group has adopted a hybrid model, balancing Zoom calls with in-person meetings at local parks.

The newest expansion of Circle of Parents in Colorado, Children’s Circle, is something Wilson is thrilled about. Children’s Circle is a curriculum-based children’s program that builds the social-emotional skills of the children of caregivers and parents attending Circles, and Wilson sees this added component as the piece that’s been missing this past year for their group. The opportunity for parents and kids to have separate activities is really needed, she said. Wilson is excited about the opportunity to reach out to even more parents now and hopes that Children’s Circle will be an added draw for people in her community.

“It is a really great match for our community. It’s worth anybody looking into. Especially if you are in any way looking to make connections with other families, it’s a great place to start.”

– Jen Wilson

With the expansion of Circle of Parents to include Children’s Circle, the opportunity for Circle to make a holistic impact is growing, continuing to benefit both parents and children. When asked what she would say to anyone thinking about attending a Circle of Parents group, Wilson shared, “It is a really great match for our community. It’s worth anybody looking into. Especially if you are in any way looking to make connections with other families, it’s a great place to start.”

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The year 2020 brought with it unprecedented challenges and opportunities to fulfill our mission to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment. Monitoring local and national health reports and directives regarding the spread of COVID-19 and the resulting school closures, reduced child care services and isolation placing children and families at greater risk of experiencing toxic stress and child maltreatment, and taking into consideration the often intense stress our employees and community partners were under at work and at home, Illuminate Colorado made many adjustments throughout the year in order to continue supporting the communities with which we partner. At the same time, we engaged in conversations on systemic racism, discrimination and inequities. We listened to and elevated families and communities with lived experiences.

2020 Annual Report

We learned, adapted and continue these tough conversations today because pervasive and systemic racism, both overt and passive, causes stress and trauma that can physically change a child’s brain and inhibit children from reaching their full potential. We know it is critical to address stress, trauma and the root causes of racism and white supremacy in order to create the conditions for children and families to thrive.

In the midst of it all, I am so proud of our staff and the support that we received from the community and the Paycheck Protection Program, which enabled us to avoid downsizing our staff or lessening our impact during the pandemic. As a small business employer, we’ve continued to find new ways to build our employees’ resilience and continue on a path toward a Colorado where all children and families thrive by:

  • launching a new innovative program, Illuminating Child Care, increasing access to child care for families addressing challenges;
  • bringing a new research-informed training to Colorado, Youth ThriveTM, focused on building protective and promotive factors with youth; and
  • facilitating a new collaborative space, the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families, seeking to create the conditions for all children and families to thrive.

These are just some of the ways our organization was able to pivot during a global pandemic, highlighted in this annual report. Along the way, we learned from our experiences together, taking with us what works into the post-pandemic reality that awaits us all.

2020 Annual Report Timeline

Building a Fort on a Solid Foundation

Building a Fort on a Solid Foundation

Sometimes it is hard to quantify what it means to be a well-rounded parent, or in my case, father.  How many experiences should one provide their child?  How many activities should I be engaged in with her, personally?  How many lessons should she be signed up for?  I believe the answer is simple: as many as you both can handle.  That is just what we were doing until the pandemic hit and all our usual routines came to a screeching halt.  

We were unable to do the normal activities outside of the house and had to adapt very quickly to the new environment.  Except for the fact that I did not adapt as quickly as I should have, which was made more apparent to me by my daughter’s innocently brutal honesty when she shared her feelings about the situation and our household.

You see, her mother has the two story, 5-bedroom house, with the puppy dog and live-in boyfriend.  As for me, I’m offering a bunk bed slumber party with my daughter every night in our one bedroom, quite adorable, little “magic cottage”, as my landlord likes to call it.  Not that it’s a competition, (although it kind of most certainly is sometimes), but I am currently not in a place where I can compete. I was doing a good job of balancing it out pre-pandemic, trying to make up for what I couldn’t offer with fun, that is until the stay-at-home orders went into effect and all of the “fun” stopped. My then 4 year-old daughter made it very clear to me what side of the white-picket fence and rose garden I stood on.  It went something like this:

“I don’t like it here!  I want to go back home!  I want to go back to my family!  No, I don’t love you!  Mommy!  Mommy!  Mommy! . . .” After deliberating with this information for a long period of time, trying to reason with her, asking what we can do differently, encouraging her to think of some things to have more fun, she just kept repeating those incredibly hurtful comments and pulling my last thread of patience. 

So, I matched her intensity, and it went something like this: 

“I thought you liked this new place?!  We were in an unfinished basement before this for crying out loud!  You said you loved our new house!  Now you want to go back HOME with your FAMILY?!  How do you think that makes me feel?!  I AM your family too!  This IS also your home!  You can have a home and a family at mommy’s and a home and a family at daddy’s!  That hurts my feelings when you say that!  I’m trying over here!  What more do you want?!  I get it that your mom’s house is bigger, and you have more stuff to play with, but we do fun things too!  Have you forgotten about skiing, rock climbing, bike riding, hiking, camping, ice skating, roller skating, yoga, piano, and whatever else I can’t think of right now?!?!  We just can’t do a lot of them right now because everybody is sick!  You know, we have a big house in Texas with a huge a** backyard to run around in and a playscape to climb on!  You’ve been there!  I took you there when you were a year and a half, so I could fix it up to be a rental,  so we could move up here to Colorado, so your mom and I could both be close to you!  That’s where I could be right now, but I’m not!  I’m here, with you, because I choose to be!  Because I love you and I want to be with you!  There are a lot of other dads and moms that would not make this kind of sacrifice or would not have the means to do what I’m doing, so a little appreciation and gratitude would be nice!”

I calmly explained to her why I reacted the way that I did “because my feelings were hurt and sometimes even parents have ‘big feelings’ that are hard to manage, but it doesn’t mean that it is alright to yell and scream.”

Now before the “parenting police” come at me, quick to criticize others and shame parents for opening up about our struggles, I want to say that I am well aware that I did not handle that situation in the best fashion. I’m sharing this blog and my own experiences to help others and shine a light on parenting strategies that support physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional development, critical to helping our children reach their full potential. 

I know most of my response to her was my ego talking.  After yelling about the house for an extended period, cleaning things, throwing things away, and opening/closing doors aggressively, probably the only good thing I did was at the end of my rant, I told her that I am going to go to another room and take three deep breaths so I can calm down.  

Obviously, I missed the mark on that one earlier, but later is better than never, I suppose.  When I came back to her room, a little more clear headed, I found her scared, hiding from me at the top of her bunk bed. That sinking feeling of regret began to weigh heavy in my chest. I picked her up and brought her to the couch, holding her, rocking her and apologizing.  

I calmly explained to her why I reacted the way that I did “because my feelings were hurt and sometimes even parents have ‘big feelings’ that are hard to manage, but it doesn’t mean that it is alright to yell and scream.”  I reminded her that she is allowed to remind me to take my three deep breaths when she sees me getting upset or frustrated just like she reminds me to clean up my language when she hears me use a cuss word.  

This routine isn’t to impose her responsibility over my emotions, quite the contrary. It allows her the freedom to impose the same behavior corrections on me as I do for her.  This allows her to see that adults can also make mistakes and helps me model the proper way to accept constructive criticism while also reminding me to model good behavior for her.  The same kind of behavior I expect from her. But most importantly, it gives her skin in the game and a sense of ownership within our household and the household rules, which can be a very empowering and a confidence building experience.  It’s not whether the actions in this case were right or wrong, this is just what parenting looks like sometimes when we get overloaded by stress. A feeling we all became familiar with in the midst of stress induced by the pandemic which continues today.  

What is most important from this exchange is the lessons we both learned from the experience and how we recovered from it. I certainly learned about instilling more patience in my response times and that my daughter’s feelings on certain aspects that I may not necessarily agree with are legit and should be treated as such, even if what she has to say can feel hurtful to me/my ego.  

At the end of the day, I am the adult and I should be able to do better.  I believe what she learned from that experience is that words are powerful and they can really hurt people’s feelings and a bad reaction to her words, like mine, is a possibility. I also believe she learned that adults, too, are not perfect. We make mistakes just like she does, but when we do, we recognize the mistake, apologize and try to move forward.  

I think a potentially negative outcome from that experience may now be that she is a little more hesitant, not feeling safe to speak, believing that I may become angry in the fashion I did again.  Like, I may have broken the trust with her for open and honest communication due to my reaction.  That being said, it is not always a bad thing to take a pause before one decides to speak and maybe also decide not to speak at all after calculating the unproductive outcome that may transpire.  


It was the beginning of setting the groundwork for a good foundation based on trust, love, open communication and teamwork.  We both went to work thinking of different indoor activities and ideas that we could do together and things she could look forward to doing with me when it was time to come back after her week with her mother.

The other side of that coin is a willingness to then lie about the truth of what we are feeling to avoid potential consequences or a conflict; which is exactly what I noticed manifesting months after I “lost it during the pandemic” and something we are both happily working on together to solve.

It was the beginning of setting the groundwork for a good foundation based on trust, love, open communication and teamwork.  We both went to work thinking of different indoor activities and ideas that we could do together and things she could look forward to doing with me when it was time to come back after her week with her mother.  Since we had a collection of Amazon and Costco boxes, the first task was to build a fort!  We both helped build it and paint it and continuously add her artwork to it that she brought home from school.  It was basically two stories and took up most of the living room, but was well worth the tight squeeze with all of the memories we created with it.  The fort led to other fun things for us to do together, like our activities board filled with things like yoga, hiking, piano practice, letter sounds, bike riding, roller-skating and Spanish practice.  

For each activity on our board she would get a sticker to put on a sticky note pad next to the activity.  When she got three stickers on an activity, she would transfer the stick note pad to another board where she could earn 5 minutes of screen time with Kahn Academy Kids/ABC Mouse, OR she could add up more sticky note pads to bake cookies with Daddy, Grandma and Grandpa over zoom! This then lead to me purchasing my first board game for her, (Candy Land), and gracefully teaching her the art of losing with good sportsmanship.  😊  

The final addition to our pandemic forced shift of “fun” came in the form of card games (I hate card games, by the way).  But, this one actually turned out to be a great learning experience for me as well, considering I did not think that a four and a half year old could grasp the idea of some of these card games, like memory, Slap Jack, and Goldfish, and I did not think I would have so much fun watching her learn the games?!  Nevermind the fact that I had to reread the directions on how to play most of these games.  Ha!  The time together turned out to be some of the best bonding we have ever done, partially because of the adversities we had to overcome and the determination to push through it as a team.  

It all started with that breakdown in communication, where we hurt each other’s feelings, had to set new expectations in our relationship and rebuild the trust on a solid foundation. . . . A foundation perfect for a fort that would take up my whole living room for almost a year until we were finally ready to take it down so we could put up our Christmas Tree.  That fort became the quintessential metaphor for what we were going through as a family and possibly what our society was going through as a whole.  The building of that fort is something I will never take for granted and never ever forget in reflecting on the true purpose that it actually served.

About the Author

About the Author

Adam N. S. Combs is a blog contributor helping to illuminate the protective factors in his family’s life by sharing his experiences as a father, military veteran and Circle of Parents facilitator through storytelling.

Kiowa County Becomes the First County to Reach Child Safety Tipping Point

Kiowa County Becomes the First County to Reach Child Safety Tipping Point

Illuminate Colorado is excited to announce this week that Kiowa County is the first county in the state of Colorado to reach the tipping point to create a new standard of child safety in the community. In June of last year, llluminate launched the Tip Colorado Initiative aimed at training more than 200,000 Coloradans to protect children from sexual abuse.

Calculating the number of people who need to receive training in every county in Colorado and understanding what is necessary to create REAL social change in a community, Illuminate identified the tipping point for our state, as well as each county, where children grow up happy, healthy and safe in communities that prevent children from being sexually abused. 


People all over Colorado can visit an interactive map on the initiative’s website to find out the number of people trained in their county today and learn how many more community members need to get trained to reach the tipping point in their county.

Local authorized facilitators Amber Settles and Lisa Thomas were instrumental in training the population of Kiowa County to reach this milestone. “We all need this training as a starting point, so we know where to go for help and support to grow our skills and advocate for the kids in our daily lives,” Settles said. “We as adults need to advocate and speak for the voiceless.” 

As the state intermediary and authorized facilitator of the Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program, Illuminate is strengthening families, organizations and communities by supporting more than 80 local authorized facilitators in delivering, to their communities, the only evidence-informed, adult-focused child sexual abuse prevention training in the United States proven to increase knowledge and change behavior. Together, we have trained 8,130 Coloradans to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. This is no small feat, but it is a far cry from reaching the necessary critical milestone in child protection that we need to effectively prevent child sexual abuse in Colorado. This pivotal achievement will come when 284,149 Coloradans have taken this FREE two-hour training offered online and in-person in some communities.

Tipping the Scales in Favor of Kids in Kiowa

The people of Kiowa County, in southeastern Colorado, have shown a strong commitment to the prevention of child sexual abuse by passing the tipping point where a large enough percentage of the population has been trained to prevent, recognize and responsibly react to child sexual abuse to create real social change. The county needed to train 69 adults in order to reach the tipping point; it has already trained 110 adults and isn’t stopping there. “As the first county in Colorado to reach the tipping point, Kiowa County is proof that our communities care about our children and that adults are willing to take this first step forward to strengthen their communities,” said Sadie Rose Pace, Illuminate Colorado training specialist. “The dedicated people of Kiowa County and the local authorized facilitators who supported them in their effort deserve to be recognized and celebrated.” 

Help Colorado Reach the Tipping Point

Thanks in large part to support from the Colorado Children’s Trust Fund from the Office of Early Childhood at the Colorado Department of Human Services, all Coloradans can take Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® training for FREE. One of several trainings aimed at preventing child sexual abuse promoted by Illuminate, Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® training provides a strong foundation that any adult can use to grow awareness and build skills to protect the children in their community. Illuminate looks forward to more and more counties joining Kiowa County in the continuing effort to prevent child sexual abuse. For more information about the training and to learn what your community tipping point is, visit

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