Sexual abuse

To the Editor

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, one in five girls and one in twenty boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. Studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident. Children are most vulnerable to childhood sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13. Every source offers different statistics; every statistic grows with each passing year.

An emerging issue in Sheboygan County and many others is Human Trafficking, specific to the recruiting of minor children for sexual exploitation. On March 25, 2015, the Sheboygan County Health and Human Services Department, local law enforcement, Sheboygan School District staff, and other community stakeholders held a symposium on Human Trafficking related to children and youth.

In follow-up, the same partners have committed to developing a multi-disciplinary team to better identify children at risk, to create awareness of the tactics that human traffickers use, and to establish collaborative community approaches to solutions.

Efforts are also being extended to develop a regional Child Advocacy Center. Child Advocacy Centers bring together law enforcement, specialized medical examiners, and child protection social workers in one centralized location so there can be improved coordination of services. The environment is arranged with children and families in mind, the need for multiple interviews can be reduced, and better evidence for the prosecution of child sexual abuse can be collected.

At Sheboygan County Health and Human Services, sexual abuse reports are just one of the many types of reports taken on a daily basis. A primary goal of the

Child Protection response is assuring the safety and well-being of child victims of sexual abuse and their families. When sexual abuse occurs, the fear and anxiety experienced by victims and families alike can be overwhelming, requiring prompt assistance and guidance to community services.

Be aware of the backgrounds of those who provide care for your children. Be aware of where your children are and who their friends are, especially your teens. Have conversations with your children about good and bad touches, how to protect their bodies, and identify safe adults in your child’s life who they can talk to about an incident or concern. Educating youth on how they can and should protect themselves will increase the likelihood that they will report an incident to an adult they trust. Talking about it, creating awareness, and educating others is the best path to preventing it.

To report child sexual abuse, you can contact the Sheboygan County Health and Human Services Department, Child Protective Services Unit, between 8am – 5pm at 920-459-6418, or contact your local Law Enforcement Agency at any time.

Miranda Malone, Sheboygan

County HHSD Social Worker

Therese Janssen, Child Protective Services Access Supervisor

Scott Shackelford, Child and

Family Services Manager

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