Protecting children from sexual abuse in SLO County
How CFS advocates for the prevention of child sexual abuse.
Many San Luis Obispo County community members read the recent Tribune article “Two girls testify against SLO man in molestation trial”. The abuser was arrested in 2016 and now three years later two young women who were victimized by him bravely testified in court at the end of June.
According to Berkeley Media Studies, news coverage of child sexual abuse is usually tied to a “moment” in the criminal justice process, which means that there is very little coverage of prevention since most reports focus on an incident after the fact and discussions of how to prevent child sexual abuse are virtually absent from news coverage.
At Center for Family Strengthening, we play a central role advocating for the shift of conversations to how institutions can create environments that prevent child sexual abuse in San Luis Obispo County. One approach is our Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety program. Center for Family Strengthening hires qualified educators who teach children self-protection skills and about safe and unsafe touching. We also provide adults accurate information about child sexual abuse through Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety. Our approach includes educating parents, teachers, childcare providers and the community, all who play a critical role in protecting children from all forms of abuse.
A recent New York Times article shared about protecting children from sexual abuse through proactive prevention. Give Your Child the Tools to Recognize Sexual Abuse speaks to the importance of talking to children about their bodies, learning appropriate boundaries, and supporting them in sharing when they feel uncomfortable. “Preventing abuse is equally important: By giving children the necessary tools, we can help them learn how to stay safer and support them should they face a traumatic situation” writes Dr. Shani Zoldan-Verschleiser, AuD., L.M.S.W.
The article highlights tips that are taught in our program, Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety.
- A child’s feelings and body deserve respect
- There is a difference between secrets and surprises
- Create a norm of “asking permission” to touch a child
- Invite children to use creative descriptions when sharing, including feelings, sensations and age-appropriate terms
With community donations and grant awards from Central Coast Funds for Children and In-N-Out Burger Foundation, Center for Family Strengthening provides Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety lessons for over 3,000 school-age children and their parents. To learn more, visit https://cfsslo.org/programs/kidz-tool-box/.