KENT COUNTY, Mich. — After FOX 17’s very own Mike Avery came forward about being a victim of sexual assault under the hands of a doctor at Ohio State University, we spoke with experts from the Child Advocacy Center of Kent County about how to talk with your kids about sexual assault.
· One in 25 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
· One in ten children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
· Only one-third of child sexual abuse incidents are identified, and less are reported.
· Nationally, 90% of children know their abuser. In Kent County, 99% of children know their abuser.
· Research shows that many children do not disclose sexual abuse immediately after the abuse occurs. In fact, many children do not disclose the abuse for years, if they disclose at all. Many adult survivors of child sexual abuse have never disclosed their abuse to anyone. Some children do not tell for a variety of reasons. These include threats to the child, fear of the perpetrator, a lack of opportunity, a lack of understanding of child sexual abuse or a relationship with the perpetrator.
How to react responsibly:
· A disclosure of sexual abuse means that a child has chosen you as the person he or she trusts enough to tell. The child has broken through secrecy, fear, and shame – even if only for a moment.
· Discovery of abuse means you’ve witnessed a sexually abusive act by an adult or youth with a child, or you know by another way that the abuse has taken place.
· Suspicion means you’ve seen signs in a child, or you’ve witnessed boundary violations by adults or other youth. Suspicion means, at a minimum, you need to set some limits or ask some questions.
· Offer your support by telling the child you believe him or her and assure the child that what happened is not his or her fault.
· Make a report to Children’s Protective Services if there has been a disclosure or you suspect any type of abuse: 855-444-3911.
· The Michigan Child Protection Law requires certain professions to report their suspicions of child abuse or neglect to Children’s Protective Services.
Data has shown that the following factors encourage a victim to disclose abuse:
· being directly asked about experiences of abuse if abuse is suspected or witnessed
· having access to someone who will listen
· believe and respond appropriately
· having knowledge and language about what constitutes abuse and how to access help
· having a sense of control over the process of disclosure both in terms of their anonymity (not being identified until they are ready for
this) and confidentiality (the right to control who knows)
· effective responses by adults both in informal and formal contexts (Darkness to Light)
Support for survivors:
· If you are a child sexual abuse survivor, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Kent County will connect you to services and resources to help you on your healing journey.