Missouri’s Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children recently released its “2012 Final Report”, which includes more than 20 recommendations for professional training, mental health services and community-based sexual abuse prevention.
Sexual abuse of children is a “silent epidemic” throughout Missouri and the rest of the United States, according to the report’s authors, who reference studies indicating as many as a quarter of U.S. girls and 16 percent of boys experience sexual abuse during childhood.
The report recommends the expansion of community-based sexual abuse prevention education programs, and supplying children with age-appropriate information regarding physical boundaries and inappropriate touching. The report addresses the specific need for sexual abuse education for children with disabilities and children that live in lower-income homes, as both demographics are at higher risk for abuse than the general population.
The Task Force encourages the expansion of home-visiting programs involving trained professionals and additionally recommends that all schools and organizations serving young people should have child sexual abuse prevention policies in place.
Further, the report suggests that mandated reporters - individuals that frequently have contact with children, including physicians, teachers, day care center employees and ministers - undergo mandatory training on child abuse and education, via credentialing and licensing organization standards.
Awareness is essential in preventing the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, the authors of the report state.
“Many adults have no knowledge about what to do when they suspect a child is being harmed,” the report reads. “Increased public awareness about the need to confront the silence and stigma of sexual abuse of children and what to do when confronted with abusive behavior could lay the foundation for a climate where sexual abuse of children is less likely to occur.”
Photo courtesy of the Missouri government.