The problem is clear: Sexual abuse of children is much too common. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys experience child sexual abuse at some point in childhood. The solution is also clear: we must invest in strategies to prevent child sexual abuse.
Yet our nation’s investments have focused primarily on how to respond after child sexual violence has taken place. Elizabeth Letourneau wrote that “[a] successful national approach would comprehensively address all child sexual abuse by emphasizing primary prevention as well as treatment and accountability” in her September 2019 article We spend billions after child sexual abuse happens and nothing to prevent it. Letourneau and colleagues have done valuable work documenting a cost of $9.3 billion in 2015 for child sexual abuse in this country. And that is likely an undercount.
Subsequently Congress added an $1 million appropriation in Fiscal Year 2019 to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address the prevention of child sexual abuse. In the short document Child Sexual Abuse is Preventable and in a longer report to Congress on child sexual abuse prevention CDC recommends the following areas in which research in preventing child sexual abuse is needed:
- Improve surveillance systems and data collection
- Increase understanding of risk and protective factor
- Strengthen and develop evidence-based policies, programs, and practices
- Disseminate and implement evidence-based policies, programs, and practices
Aligned with those recommendations, CALCASA’s national project PreventConnect has shared the policies, programs and practices that are promising toward preventing child sexual abuse. In over 30 web conferences (from the #PowerInPrevention series funded by Ms. Foundation for Women in 2012-2015 to web conferences featuring the Just Beginnings Collaborative in 2019) we have featured the voices of those doing child sexual abuse prevention work in their communities. You can see the materials and recordings of those web conferences in the list below.
Along with the new child sexual abuse prevention funding, there are other exciting new prevention efforts. The CDC Foundation recently announced that it is updating the valuable 2007 report Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures. PreventConnect developed an ELearning Model Considerations in Developing Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policies in Youth-Serving Organizations that provide examples of child sexual abuse prevention policies from this report. In addition, PreventConnect works with the national organization RALIANCE to support its prevention work. Check out RALIANCE Sport + Prevention Center and Parent 2 Parent resource pages for more examples of child sexual abuse prevention in action.
PreventConnect will continue to amplify the voices for child sexual violence prevention. Please share with us what you are doing to build a society where no child is sexually abused.
Here is a comprehensive list of PreventConnect web conferences on child sexual abuse
- Changing the Culture of Schools, Churches, and Communities to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Lessons Learned from the Just Beginnings Collaborative
- Adult Survivors as Movement Leaders: Lessons Learned from the Just Beginnings Collaborative
- Mobilizing & Organizing Communities to End Child Sexual Abuse: Lessons Learned from the Just Beginnings Collaborative
- #PowerInPrevention Ending Child Sexual Abuse: Building Resilience and Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
- #PowerInPrevention Ending Child Sexual Abuse: Updates on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention with Elementary School Ages
- Survivor Leadership: It’s Relevance to Child Sexual Abuse Prevention
- Prevention through Understanding and Addressing Sexual Behavior of Children
- A Practical View of the Role that Youth Serving Organizations Can Play in Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
- The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline
- Expected and unexpected funding partnerships to prevent child sexual abuse
- Technology Strategies for Ending Child Sexual Exploitation
- Unique Opportunities for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Learning from Migrant Farmworker Communities
- Child Sexual Abuse Prevention at the Intersections: Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
- Restorative Justice: A Promising Approach to Ending Child Sexual Abuse
- Preventing the Harm, Promoting the Helpful: Healthy Sexuality
- Bridging Knowledge in Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Promising Practices in Indigenous Communities
- Pillars of Policy for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: A Discussion
- Faith Communities Engaged in Ending Child Sexual Abuse
- Secret Survivor’s Tools for Strengthening your Prevention Efforts
- Power of Organizational Practices: Innovations to Keep Kids Safer
- Statute of Limitations and its Connection to Prevention
- Child Sexual Abuse and Disabilities
- Telling our Stories: Learning as we Build a Movement to end Child Sexual Abuse
- Including Child Sexual Abuse in the Sexual Violence Prevention Movement
- Using Media to End Child Sexual Abuse
- Preventing the Perpetration of Child Sexual Abuse
- Voices of Experience: the role of direct experiences in social change
- Healthy Sexuality and Caring Connections: Foundations for Prevention
- The Role of Arts in Ending Child Sexual Abuse
- Depictions of children in media and pornography: Implications for prevention
- After Sandusky: What we have learned to prevent child sexual abuse in youth-serving organizations
- Policy changes that help and hinder our ability to end child sexual abuse
CALCASA has released a new 144 page report titled Sexual Violence Research: Findings From a Systemic Review of the Literature 2015-2019 that highlights articles from the leading academic journals, organizational reports, and resources that have the potential to support the anti-sexual violence movement and all organizations/individuals committed to asserting the dignity of all people.
This report synthesizes key findings from a comprehensive review of the peer-reviewed research literature on sexual violence in the United States published between January 2015 and March 2019. The work serves as a sequel to the 2014 CALCASA report and 2015 follow-up report which covered the period from 2005 to 2015.
This review organizes the most recently available data into topical sections to maximize its utility for advocates, prevention practitioners, activists, policy makers and funders in identifying scientific studies that support evidence-based programming and policies for the state.
In addition, CALCASA has asked leading advocates and activists, including Beckie Masaki, Mimi Kim, and Marc Philpart, to share their favorite new resources.
The report was edited and written by researchers and staff of the Center on Gender Equity and Health, University of California San Diego.
CALCASA CEO Sandra Henriquez says in the introduction of this report that “We encourage people to use the information from this report in their newsletters, social media, grant applications and reports. With this knowledge, we can make the necessary changes in our communities to build a society free from sexual violence.”
Click here to download the full report.
From table tennis to cycling to soccer, I recently saw for myself the true power of sport. This month, as part of the United States-Pakistan Exchange on addressing gender-based violence through sport, I joined nine other U.S. violence prevention and sport leaders in meeting with Pakistani programs. The exchange was organized by Women Win, an international organization dedicated to girls’ and women’s empowerment through sport, and Right to Play Pakistan, with support from the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. Throughout this exchange, we shared challenges, approaches, and best practices around using sport as a tool to address gender-based violence and create more gender-equitable communities.
In Pakistan, programs are working to empower women and girls by increasing opportunities for them to participate in education and sports. During the exchange, I saw powerful examples of women being empowered through sport with visits to the Diya Women’s Football Club, Pak-Shaheen Boxing Club, Asbar Welfare Foundation (which teaches table tennis to girls and young women), Early Bird Riders Sheroes Cycling Club, and Misbah’s Volleyball Academy.
I was impressed with Right to Play Pakistan’s programs that utilize sport and play to promote rights toward ending gender-based violence. The Goal Program (Girls Rights and Financial Literacy Through Sport) places young leaders in government schools to engage children and youth in regular play-based activities designed to integrate life skills such as cooperation, communication, teamwork, and critical thinking. At a Play Day in Islamabad, we joined over 100 young boys and girls from local charity schools where they sprinted, high-fived, and played “tug of peace” together under the theme of saying no to violence!
Ending gender-based violence also involves engaging men and young boys to become advocates for gender equity and promoting women’s rights. At Rozan, we met with a group of young men who have participated in Humqadam — a program that teaches men how to take action against gender-based violence.
We concluded the visit with a two-day convening on using sport to address gender-based violence, where I shared the report from RALIANCE’s Sport + Prevention Center on how sport can be part of the solution to ending sexual violence in the United States.
Across the U.S. and internationally, sport is an influential system. It can be a powerful part of the solution to ending sexual violence, and it’s encouraging to see how various programs are using the lessons from sport to create a safer, more equitable world.
This week, CALCASA attended the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia to share how sport is an important part of the solution to end sexual violence. In a session on Monday entitled “Sport as a platform to advance a culture of prevention,” Director of Prevention David Lee discussed the power of sport and athletics to promote well-being and advance a culture of prevention. He also highlighted the roadmap to create change from RALIANCE’s Sport + Prevention Center.
Other session panelists included Dr. Kathleen Basile of the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention, who spoke about how middle school sports involvement contributes to better understanding sexual violence in high school; Jessica Wagner of the NCAA’s Sport Science Institute, who spoke about the role of the NCAA in creating health promotion for college campuses; and Inside Outside Initiative’s Jody Redman, who shared her experience of reclaiming the educational purpose of high school sport for prevention.
The next day ushered in a full session entitled, “Sport as a platform to advance a culture of health.” The discussion focused on how to build a network that advances prevention and brings together public health best practices to sport. This session was facilitated by David Lee, NCAA’s Jessica Wagner, and Jeff Milroy of Institute to Promote Athlete Health & Wellness at the University of North Carolina Greenville. From researchers, athletic trainers, athletes, sports management, coaches, officials, and parents, it was clear from the discussion that there is tremendous interest in building a network dedicated to using the power of sport to foster healthy athletes and communities.
Despite the headlines these days exposing high-profiles cases of unchecked sexual abuse in different in sports, our productive sessions at the APHA annual meeting shine a light on how sport is a powerful and positive force in our society. It has the potentialhere to instill important values in athletes, shape positive attitudes, and build strong communities.
“Bold Moves. Equity Now” was announced today as the theme of the 2020 National Sexual Assault Conference. NSAC will take place in Anaheim, CA on September 2-4, 2020. The Call for Proposals to submit a proposed workshop is open until December 23, 2019. Conference registration will open in April 2020.
“How do we raise boys to be whole men without degrading our daughters in the process?” asks Don McPherson in his newly released book You Throw Like a Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity. This former National Football League and Canadian Football League quarterback proceeds to explore how to do speaking not only as a man, as an African American and as an athletic, but as a person dedicated to preventing gender based violence. McPherson tells his story of becoming and being a prevention practitioner.
The book’s title is a common insult from men to other men. In these pages, McPherson calls to men to explore what they can become. He insists that “we should be asking more what boys and men can become and asking less what they should or shouldn’t do.”
Drawing on his experiences as a boy, as a son, as an athlete and as person working to prevent men’s violence, he provides many examples of how to challenge men to move away from sexist, homophobic and misogyny. Similar to what another Syracuse University football star Joe Ehrmann wrote in his book InsideOut Coaching, McPherson demonstrated how sport can go beyond reinforcing negative and destructive male norms, and help shape positive behaviors.
He credits those whom have help teach him, from Mentors in Violence Prevention founder Jackson Katz, to Oakland Men’s Project development of the “Act Like a Man Box” to his father’s examples of loving his family. I was moved by his stories of how he learned to be a man from our culture, and how he had to relearn how to become the man working to be a healthy man actively engaged to prevent men’s violence.
We need more examples like Don McPherson of how to work to create a world without violence.
Check out RALIANCE’s Sport + Prevention Center on strategies to engage sport to be part of the solution to preventing sexual and domestic violence.