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LETTER: Child sexual abuse preventable

The recent controversy over allegations of child sexual abuse at Penn State University brings to light a sobering and poorly understood issue. Sexual abuse is every parent’s worst nightmare, and understandably so. Experts estimate that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused, most by someone the family knows and trusts. The impact can be devastating. Survivors are at an increased risk for drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, PTSD and even violent crime. Youth-serving organizations fear few things more than finding evidence of sexual abuse within their own ranks.
The good news is that prevention is possible. Teaching children about personal safety is an important first step, and schools in Orange County have made abuse prevention a priority.
Several agencies in this community, including the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA and the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, are also leading a countywide initiative to train adults in child-protective strategies. Every parent can benefit from learning these skills for keeping their children safe.
We hope that parents, teachers, child-care providers and other concerned adults in the community will join us in prioritizing prevention so our community remains a safe place for children.
Learn more about adults’ role in protecting children by visiting chcymca.org/d2l, or call OCRCC at 968-4647.

Rachel Valentine
Rape Prevention Education Coordinator, Orange County Rape Crisis Center

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