Child sexual abuse is a form of child maltreatment in which a child is involved in sexual activity that he/she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent or that violates the law. Child sexual abuse can occur between a child and an adult, or a child and another child, who because of age or development, is in a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
Child sexual abuse can result in immediate and long-term harm for children including difficulty with emotional regulation, depression, suicidal feelings, poor relationship quality, lack of trust, isolation, disassociation, amnesia and low self-esteem.
Child sexual abuse is an adverse childhood experience (ACE) that is prevalent in Wisconsin and has a high likelihood of co-occurring with other ACEs. Among those who were sexually abused, 54% have four or more ACEs. Research establishes a strong correlation between early childhood trauma and adult physical and mental health. Individuals with four or more ACEs in childhood have a higher incidence in adulthood of health risk behaviors, poor health outcomes and earlier death.
Child sexual abuse prevention promotes education and awareness among parents and caregivers. A comprehensive prevention strategy includes increasing parents’ and caregivers’ knowledge of protective measures they can take on behalf of children.
Organizations that work with children and families are encouraged to implement prevention strategies that are known to protect children. The CDC has developed six key components for preventing child sexual abuse within youth-serving organizations.
The Prevention Board supports implementation of evidence-informed child sexual abuse prevention programs through its competitive grant making process. Awareness to Action (A2A) is an initiative focused on preventing child sexual abuse by assisting adults and communities to take action to protect children. One component of A2A entitled, Stewards of Children, is a program proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors. Appropriate for any adult, this training equips participants with ways to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
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