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Myth-busting: the child abuse edition

April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, is a time to actively stop abuse in your community. The first step toward prevention is awareness, and this means getting the facts straight.

“Much to our surprise, most sexual abuse of children is perpetrated by individuals known to the children and their parents. People who offend against children are skilled at blending in and going undetected so they can continue to have access to children,” says Libby Nicholson, director of CARE House, Montgomery County’s children’s advocacy center.

There are many myths surrounding child abuse and during the month of April CARE House and Dayton Children’s want the community to know the truth behind these myths.

MYTH: Child abuse is not very prevalent — it only affects a few children in the area.

REALITY: According to Darkness to Light, about one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. In the Dayton area alone, over 600 victims of child abuse have visited the CARE House over this past year.

MYTH: Most perpetrators of child abuse are strangers.

REALITY: Most abusers are closer to home than you’d expect: About 90 percent of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser, 30 percent of which are family members. The typical abuser can be in your child’s school, sports league, or even church. This is why it is important to stay alert and act on suspicions.

MYTH: Child abuse only happens in some parts of society.

REALITY: Child abuse happens across all sectors of society including different socio-economic and ethnic groups, and in both city and rural communities.

MYTH: Children usually tell someone that they are being abused.

REALITY: Often, children do not have the words to describe what is happening to them, or are totally unaware that what is happening to them is out of the norm. Abusers can be very effective in making children too fearful to tell anyone about the abuse as well.

MYTH: Child abuse only affects victims and their families.

REALITY: Safehorizon estimates that $124 billion is spent on child abuse victims for healthcare, child welfare and protection, law enforcement and special education costs.

Take action to help the children in your community:

If you suspect child abuse, make a report by calling your local public children services agency. For Montgomery County Children Services, call 937-224-KIDS (5437). If you have questions or concerns about child abuse, call your local children’s advocacy center.

CARE House is a provider of the Stewards of Children curriculum, a training to teach adults to prevent child sexual abuse. If you or your organization would be interested in the Stewards of Children training please contact CARE House at 937-641-4545.

“It is through prevention efforts such as this that we are better able to protect children,” says Nicholson.

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