By Jacqui Groves and Sierra Maniates
Though much of the world is at a standstill right now, we cannot hit the pause button on preventing violence against children. As we wrap up Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness month, join Rape Advocacy, Counseling, & Education Services (RACES) prevention educators for a webinar for parents and caregivers to learn how you can keep the children in your life safer.
This webinar, “How to Be a Trusted Adult: Encouraging Boundaries, Communication, & Safety with PreK-5th Grade Children”, is free and open to all who take care of children. It will take place over Zoom and will be offered twice: Tuesday, April 28 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.; and Saturday, May 2, from 10-11 a.m.
RACES is a non-profit rape crisis center that serves Champaign, Ford, Douglas, and Piatt counties. We’re located in downtown Urbana, but you’re more likely to find the prevention educators in one of the 25+ schools we serve. Prevention educators present age-appropriate, evidence-informed sexual violence prevention programming in schools and community spaces throughout East Central Illinois. If you have a child who has ever brought home a “who’s your trusted adult” pencil, or a sticker that proudly announces “no one has the right to hurt me,” they’ve been a recipient of our prevention programming.
Though we’ve had to pause our in-person programming due to COVID-19, we are excited to offer new ways to connect and learn while we’re sheltering in place.
Our upcoming hour-long webinar will introduce parents and caregivers to the concepts we teach elementary-age students in our prevention programming: trusted adults; boundaries; safe, unsafe, and unwanted touches; bodily autonomy; and communication. We’ll discuss ways of reinforcing these skills at home, talking to kids about body safety, and responding to disclosures of abuse.
During the webinar, participants will have the opportunity to interact with facilitators and other community members through discussion and a Q & A session. Attendees will also receive supplementary resources that can help them continue the conversation with children. All adults who interact with young kids (parents, caregivers, teachers, mentors) are welcome to attend.
According to Darkness to Light, a prominent child abuse prevention organization, “about 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.” While that is an alarming statistic, the good news is that we can do something about it.
Research shows that relationships with trusted adults help keep kids safe. The CDC lists “supportive family environment and social networks,” “caring adults outside the family who can serve as role models or mentors,” and “communities that support parents and take responsibility for preventing abuse” as crucial protective factors for preventing child abuse. By being trusted adults to the children in our lives, believing survivors, and continuing to build a supportive community, we can reduce the prevalence of child sexual abuse.
RACES knows that our free, confidential services are just as important now as ever. Beyond prevention education, RACES also offers counseling, legal advocacy, and medical advocacy for child and adult survivors of sexual violence and their non-offending significant others (partners, family members, friends). All of these services continue to be offered remotely. RACES also offers a hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for crisis intervention and support over the phone. You can reach that hotline at (217) 384-4444. For more information about our services, visit our website.
Jacqui Groves and Sierra Maniates are prevention educators at RACES in Urbana.