Boys and girls are silently bearing the burden of child sexual abuse alone because only 10 percent of children report the abuse to a trusted adult, said Sharon De Boer, executive director of the Child Advocacy Centers in Rutherford and Cannon Counties.
Experts estimate that one in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. Ninety percent of child sexual abuse victims never report the abuse.
“This means in school classrooms, daycares, churches, Sunday schools, sports teams, choirs, marching bands, cheerleading squads, dance teams, and homes—everywhere you see children in our community, there are boys and girls who are silently bearing the burden of child sexual abuse alone,” said De Boer.
Child abuse statistics show adults do not adequately protect children from child sexual abuse. There are lots of reasons why, but the main reason is that they do not know how. Parents and grandparents are unaware of the steps they can take to protect their children and grandchildren from child sexual abuse. They do not know how to recognize the signs of child sexual abuse and they do not know what to do if their child tells them it is happening.
“As professionals in the field of child abuse, we have taught children to protect themselves from child sexual abuse,” De Boer said. “That is important for them to learn, but it is no substitute for adult responsibility. The reality is that teaching children to protect themselves has not worked.”
To change this culture, the Child Advocacy Center trained professionals from the community to be Darkness to Light facilitators beginning last summer. “Darkness to Light” is a new nationwide initiative designed to teach adults how to protect children by teaching them the 7 Steps to Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse.
The trainers are employed by Murfreesboro Police Department, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Murfreesboro City Schools, Rutherford County Schools, Centerstone, Nurses for Newborns, Healthcare for the Homeless, and the Child Advocacy Center. There are now 19 certified Darkness to Light trainers conducting trainings in Rutherford and Cannon Counties.
The Child Advocacy Center began implementing the Darkness to Light Project in September 2012. Since then, the Center has trained nearly 1,500 adults how to protect children from child sexual abuse and what to do if a child reports sexual abuse to them.
“A child’s safety is an adult’s responsibility,” De Boer said. “We make our children wear seat belts. We ask our teenagers where they are going and who they will be with—all to keep our children safe. Protecting children from child sexual abuse is also an adult responsibility.”
You can support the Darkness to Light Project by attending the “Under the Moonshine Barn Bash” on Saturday, Nov. 2 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at ThorSport Farm, located at 4024 Barfield Crescent Road. Dinner and desserts will be provided by local businesses. There will be live music to stomp your feet to and Short Mountain Moonshine and Mayday Brews will provide the beverages.
The attire is casual country—jeans and cowboy boots. The price of the event is $60 in advance or $65 at the door. Register online athttp://www.underthemooonshine.eventbrite.com.
19 DAYS OF ACTIVISM DARKNESS TO LIGHT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE PREVENTION
Date Time Location
Nov. 2 6:00 p.m. Under the Moonshine Barn Bash
Nov. 4 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon Cannon County REACH
Nov. 5 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Department of Children’s Services
Nov. 5 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. Leadership Rutherford – Chamber of Commerce
Nov. 5 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Rutherford County Fire-Rescue Station 1
Nov. 6 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Cannon County Child Advocacy Center
Nov. 7 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. MAHLE
Nov. 9 8:00 a.m. Turkey Tee Off Golf Tournament
Nov. 11 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Smyrna Head-Start
Nov. 11 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Murfreesboro Baseball League
Nov. 12 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Stonebrook Day School
Nov. 13 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon Exit Realty Bob Lamb and Associates
Nov. 14 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Domestic Violence Support Group
Nov. 15 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Fresh Vision Church
Nov. 16 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon Department of Children’s Services Resource Parents
Nov. 18 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Smyrna Head-Start
Nov. 18 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Department of Children’s Services
Nov. 19 8:30 – 11:00 a.m. Juvenile Court Youth Services
Nov. 19 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Dempsey, Vantrease, and Follis
Nov. 19 4:00 – 6:30 p.m. Middle Tennessee State University
Nov. 19 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Tots’ Landing
Nov. 20 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Middle Tennessee Christian School
For more information contact the Child Advocacy Center at (615) 867-9000 or (615) 563-9915.