Active Prevention Program
We call it "In the Water" education.
One of three core goals of our prevention program is to overcome what we call the "ick factor" - no one wants to discuss sexual harm, especially not with regard to a child. This is one of the most potent barriers to prevention; our inability to discuss it.
But in small ways, we adults can be seeping into the water important messaging about harm prevention to children, young people and other adults without overwhelming anyone with too much information at one time.
In this way, we set a culture where it is ok to speak-up about boundary crossings and interactions that make us feel uncomfortable, say "no" to being touched, and, most importantly, disclose harm, knowing that our loved ones are prepared to hold that with us.
A compassionate intervention when boundaries are crossed.
We don't start child sexual abuse by abusing a child. There are often many preliminary experiences that lead to a would be offender toward sexual harm. People always wonder 'How could someone do that to a child?' Seen in a vacuum, it is hard to comprehend, but seen over the course of a person's life experiences, it starts to become more understandable, though not acceptable.
There are many warning signs along the way, and those are opportunities for prevention. If we intervene in a compassionate way during the warning sign phase, there is a good chance we can redirect someone who might one day harm. It takes insight, understanding and support to change a desire to harm, into a desire to protect children from sexual harm.
It makes so much sense to work with those who are in danger of causing harm, and to stop harm from ever happening, rather than reacting to it after the fact.
Disclosures of harm are an opportunity.
When there is only one response to any disclosures of boundary crossing or past sexual harm, namely calling child protective services and going to criminal court, we create the culture we have now. Harm boils down to being able to prove it happened with evidence (not easy) and punishment being doled out in unequal measure.
When we miss the deeper complexity of intrafamilial child sexual abuse, and disregard the nuances of each situation, we create this statistic: 88% of child sexual abuse goes unreported to authorities.
Managing the long continuum of disclosures from small interactions that make someone feel uncomfortable to actual ongoing sexual harm takes a strong grounded adult. This prevention warrior will know that each exchange must be handled with intention and appropriate emotional support. They will have an eye on safety without doing more damage to in the process.