All children are potential victims of sexual abuse. There are no age, sex, socio–economic, or racial barriers. A child is vulnerable anywhere and at any time. Current statistics indicate that an alarming number of children (1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys) are sexually abused each year. What is the most frightening is that over 90% are abused by people they know.
What is Child Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is any incident of sexual contact including, but not limited to, rape, sodomy, incest, and sexual penetration with a foreign object, as those acts are defined in Iowa Code Sections 709, 726, and 728. Sexual abuse includes contacts and interactions in which a child is used to sexually stimulate or gratify either the child or another person and includes, but is not limited to:
- Exposing oneself before a child
- Exposing the genitals of a child
- Sexual harassment
- Forcing, permitting or encouraging a child to watch sexual activities
Sometimes an older child may sexually abuse a younger one.
Iowa Code section 728 defines acts of sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation generally refers to the use of children for pornography and prostitution.
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
The most effective prevention happens before a child is harmed. Teaching children that they own their bodies and have the right to choose when, how, and by whom they are touched, empowers them. By reminding children they have a right to say “No” to any one, and coaching them to get help from trusted adults, helps to raise their self–esteem.
We can empower children, but we cannot expect children to protect themselves from sexual abuse. Parents and caregivers play a key role in sexual abuse prevention by keeping open lines of communication with their child. Let your child know that he or she can tell you right away if anyone touches his or her private parts.
As a parent or caregiver you play a key role in prevention. But sexual abuse can be a hard topic to discuss. The why’s and how to have that continuing conversation can be daunting. The article 10 Ways to Talk to Your Kids About Sexual Abuse, is recommended by our sexual abuse prevention educator if as a parent you are unsure how to approach the subject.
Care for Kids is a health–based sexual abuse prevention program for children preschool through 2nd grade and is offered to all preschools and public and private elementary schools in Marshall, Hardin, and Tama counties. The program consists of four 30 minute sessions and is taught in the child’s classroom by Child Abuse Prevention Services’ Sexual Abuse Prevention Educator or by the school’s guidance counselor.
The Care for Kids program provides children with important information by handling the issue of child sexual abuse in a sensitive manner while empowering children and equipping them with the skills needed to help prevent and report abuse.
Parents are encouraged to talk openly and often to their children about sexual abuse. Research shows that much of the effectiveness of prevention programs in schools may come from the parental instruction it encourages. Attendance by parents or guardians at Care for Kids presentations is welcome.
The Stewards of Children program is based on the belief that child safety and protection is an adult’s job. This adult education program provides information on how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. The Stewards of Children educational program is offered in Marshall, Hardin, and Tama Counties and has a fee for materials.
The following organizations provide funding support for our Sexual Abuse Prevention Program:
Marshall County: Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, Marshalltown Area United Way
Tama County: Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, Community Foundation of Tama County
For more information on child sexual abuse and its prevention, contact Lori Frederick, Sexual Abuse Prevention Educator at 641.752.1730 or email@example.com