“Today on 9news Mornings, we tackled a tough topic– one that makes many parents– and kids– uncomfortable yet one that desperately needs to be talked about: child sexual abuse,” said 9news anchor Corey Rose in her post in the 9news It Takes a Village Facebook Group following the story talking with Illuminate Colorado and a brave parent who volunteered to speak from experience to help prevent child sexual abuse. The It Takes a Village regular segments focus on news important for people parenting in Colorado. It is estimated that one in ten children will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen and up to 70% of children do not report it in the first year.  

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Deborah Freedman, a single mother of three girls, volunteered to talk with 9news about how she first learned about the importance of talking child sexual abuse prevention at home. “When my kids were in preschool, the preschool brought in a parent educator, [I] learned to just prevent sexual assult, calling body parts by their real names made a huge difference,” Freedman said.     

Awareness Makes a Difference

“We know that using anatomically correct terms is a protective factor. It protects children against child sexual abuse,” said Anne Auld director of education for Illuminate Colorado. When parents were informed of this fact as part of a public opinion survey conducted by Illuminate it made a big difference resulting in 71% of parents were willing to use anatomically correct language once they learned it was protective. According to the Illuminate study providing insight and recommendations for preventing child sexual abuse in Colorado, less than half of parents in Colorado (47%) say they typically use anatomically correct terms. 

Let's Talk Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

This one change can make a world of difference for several reasons: 

  • The language we use 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 offenders.
  • In the event of abuse, anatomically correct terms help children and adults navigate the disclosure and forensic interview process. 

“If there is a child that is talking about something that happened, we may not understand exactly what they are talking about. This is my knee. This is my elbow. If I am using other words instead of knee and elbow, why? Is there something shameful about these body parts?” said Auld during the interview with 9news. 

“There are things that we can do, like using anatomically correct language, which feels uncomfortable at first, but the more times you say penis and vagina the less interesting those words become, just like knee and elbow. If we can get used to saying those words, if we can overcome our fears, and our this just feels weird feelings, we are enabling generations after us to have less risk in their lives around abuse,” continued Auld. 

It’s an important time of year to be thinking about protecting your kids from sexual abuse, given that that many families are coming together to celebrate the holidays. It is those in a position of trust that most often victimize children – 90% of children who experience sexual abuse know their abuser, 40% of those children are abuse by another youth. 

Resources to support prevention and healing from sexual abuse:

Tip Colorado

More than 80 local authorized facilitators throughout Colorado are working to empower adults to protect children in every community in Colorado from experiencing child sexual abuse through the Tip Colorado Initiative launched in 2020. If enough adults in a community, including parents, take a FREE two-hour interactive online training offered weekly then, together, we can reach a tipping point in Colorado where children grow up happy, healthy and safe in communities that prevent children from experiencing sexual abuse. Visit TipColorado.org to sign up to be a part of reaching a tipping point to create new standards of child safety in your community.

New Research Provides Insight and Recommendations for Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

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. Download the issue brief

Healing For Survivors

If you are looking for a network of supporters to aid in your healing process, WINGS supports adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to live their fullest, healthiest lives as they speak about, heal from, and thrive beyond CSA trauma. Visit www.wingsfound.org to find therapeutic support and connect to other survivors. 

Report a Concern

If you are concerned that a child is experiencing sexual abuse, call 844-CO-4-Kids (844‑264‑5437)

Available 24 hours a day, every day. Don’t hesitate to call and get help.

Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.

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