is answer to child abuse
Ripley Countys Local Coordinating Council Against Substance
Abuse and the Indiana Youth Institute co-sponsored an event called
Prevent Now at the Southeastern Career Center on May
The program was presented by Sandy Runkle from PCAIN or Prevent
Child Abuse in Indiana and included a 24-minute video called From
Darkness to Light.
The story of how Darkness to Light came to be is that
an organization called Stewards of Children was formed
after a sad case of sexual child abuse came to light in Charleston,
SC. In that particular case, a trusted educator in a private school
sexually abused 39 children over a period of time. As horrible
as that was, good came of it. Now, organizations across the country
are working to prevent such things from happening again. What
happened in Charleston can happen anywhere.
Stewards of Childrens Curricula produces such things as
the video called From Darkness to Light and actively
seeks ways to share such information in communities across the
state and nationwide. This particular video focused on the sad
impact of child sexual abuse on victims by sharing their childhood
stories and how they were able to move on in life. Sadly, the
impact on their lives is with them always.
According to Runkle, one in four girls are sexually abused and
one in six boys are sexually abused. Most of these children never
report the abuse because they are terrified that someone will
find out their secret. The reality is that sexual child abuse
creates damaged lives.
One child who seeks help cost the taxpayer $14,345.00 for treatment
for something that will be with them for always. Forty-eight million
dollars is spent annually in Indiana alone to combat the impact
of sexual abuse against children. The emotional impact on society
translates into dollars and cents needed to try to repair damaged
lives. Sixty percent of teenage girls who become pregnant were
sexually abused. Sexual child abuse, according to Runkle, is the
most expensive crime in America today.
According to Cathy Dwyer with the Community Mental Health Center,
which serves Ripley, Franklin, Dearborn, Ohio, and Switzerland
counties, small towns are not immune to sexual assault issues.
Big city issues like sexting, online sexual predators, and date
rape happens in small towns.
Dwyer says she presents an awareness program in schools on date
rape and violent sex crimes, only to see some of those students
come in for counseling a few years later. According to Internet
statistics on sexual violence, 75% of women raped are between
the ages of 15 and 21, with the average age being 18. Dwyer said,
Counseling doesnt mean it all goes away. Its
not an event that is over. It affects every aspect of their life,
for the rest of their life. Education and awareness is part
of the battle against such abuse.
But, what do these statistics mean for Ripley County? According
to PCAIN, During 2009, there were a total of 67 cases of
sexual abuse investigated in Ripley County. Of that 67, there
were 31 cases substantiated based upon a preponderance of the
evidence. The remaining 36 cases were either unsubstantiated or
indicted (which meant there were concerns but not enough evidence
to support a substantiation.) Runkle said what we need is to
resolve to end childhood sexual abuse. Prevention is the only
answer! Its our job, as adults, to protect all children
in Ripley County.
So, what is being done to prevent sexual child abuse? A training
has been developed by Stewards of Children Curricula about darkness
to light for adults only. It is for adults only because adults
are responsible for protecting children. The tipping point for
Stewards for Children and PCAIN is to train 5% of the adult population
in Indiana by 2011 in ways to prevent child sexual abuse. One
can obtain information about these trainings by accessing their
website at www.darknesstolight.com.
Runkle stated that while sexual child abuse happens in every community,
the initiative to prevent such abuse is catching on
with the community. We are seeing shifts in community awareness
and values, she noted. She explained there are 5-7 categories
of adults who interact with children who can best benefit from
training. They are adults in schools, faith centers, youth-serving
organizations, youth sports, parents, the media and policy makers.
Remember, prevention is key to the answer.