Research published in Creating a Colorado Where Children Grow Up Free From Sexual Abuse: An Issue Brief on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse in Colorado at the end of 2021 indicates that the conditions are right and the time is now for Colorado to invest resources in proven strategies for preventing child sexual abuse and increasing the capacity to identify when abuse has occurred, promote healing and prevent future harm.
We need to give all Coloradans the skills they need to protect children and create communities where children have the opportunity to grow up healthy, happy and safe. It is possible to ensure that every child, in every community, never experiences sexual abuse if prevention strategies are thoughtfully incorporated into all aspects of society by governments, businesses, nonprofits, community organizations and individuals.
The Colorado legislature previously demonstrated a commitment to doing this when it began providing resources for adult education about child sexual abuse prevention in 2015. However, in 2020, the Colorado General Fund’s annual allocation of $250,000 for these efforts was cut due to the pandemic, and these resources were not restored during the 2021 session. It is imperative that these funds are restored during the 2022 session, and the data indicates that Colorado is at an intersection of need and opportunity that will enable us to optimize resources that are put toward adult education about child sexual abuse prevention.
The Time Is Now
While 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. Additionally, less than half of adults (43%) are confident in their ability to identify a child who is being sexually abused and 1 in 3 adults (32%) reported a lack of confidence in their ability to identify grooming behaviors.
The opportunity to shift this reality is immense and one that Colorado cannot overlook. While a majority of adults (85%) have not taken any training on child sexual abuse prevention, those who have believe it is helpful and report an increase in ability to identify grooming behavior, a willingness to intervene if they see someone engage in risky behaviors with a child, and that they will be vigilant in creating and respecting boundaries.
With support of more than 80 local authorized facilitators over several years, more than 8,000 people in Colorado have been trained to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. Restoring the General Fund’s allocation of resources to the Child Abuse Prevention Trust Fund will enable Colorado to build on this momentum and reach a tipping point needed for Colorado children to have the opportunity to grow up healthy, happy and safe.
Joint Budget Committee (JBC) members are scheduled to consider this part of the state budget on 2/15 and they need to hear from you. Contact JBC members ahead of 2/15 to urge them to invest resources in proven strategies for preventing child sexual abuse by restoring the General Fund’s allocation of resources to the Child Abuse Prevention Trust Fund for child sexual abuse prevention.
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