Victim Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, Inc.
Parents sometimes cannot find the words to
discuss personal safety with their children, but starting the conversation is
the first step. It is important to make sure they know that
NO ONE has the right to touch their private parts
or touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. It is
important that you empower them to take the right steps to stay
Teach them to say NO
to adults. Our children are
raised to respect their elders. Children should know they have the
right to say NO. Give them permission and support to say NO to adults
that may try to hurt them or make them feel uncomfortable. Children
have been taught to stay away from strangers, but most sexual assaults of
children are by someone they know.
Teach them to
immediately leave the situation. Tell them to get
away immediately and go to a safe place.
Teach them there is "Strength in
Numbers." Teach them that if they are going
somewhere, to go with their trusted friends, and to stay
Teach them to tell
you, a trusted adult, teacher, etc.
Children need to know that you will not judge them,
but that their safety comes first, above all things.
Go to the National Center for Missing
and Exploited Children – www.ncmec.org for more information on keeping
your child safe. Download and read: “Know the Rules…” (Five
“Guidelines to Reduce Child Victimization."
A great Child Lures
Prevention education booklet that you can download for free is
Think First & Stay Safe! PARENTS GUIDE at
www.childluresprevention.com (For Parents).
Review this booklet with your children and practice their
responses and reactions to these lures.
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the
following age appropriate topics to discuss with your
18 months - 3 years old: Teach your children the
proper names for body parts.
3-5 years: Teach your
children about private parts of the body and how to say no to sexual
advances. Give straightforward answers about sex.
5-8 years: Discuss
safety away from home and the difference between safe
and unsafe touch. Encourage your children to talk about
scary experiences and reassure them that they can talk to you about
8-12 years: Stress
personal safety. Start to discuss rules of
sexual conduct that are accepted by the family.
13-18 years: Stress
personal safety. Discuss rape, date rape, sexually transmitted
diseases, and unintended pregnancies.
How Do I Know If A Child Has Experienced
Sexual or Physical Abuse?
Children may show
signs of depression or other signs of concern for many
reasons. Not just one of these signs means that the child has been
abused, but several signs may mean that you should be investigating, and
seeking support and assistance. If you believe that the perpetrator
may be a parent or guardian, you may anonymously call the state Office of
Children & Family Services, or Department of Family Services (each
state may have a different name for this agency). If you are unsure
whom to call, contact your local Department of Social Services for the
toll-free Child Protective Services hotline number. In New York State,
the telephone number is 1-800-342-3720.
If you believe that the abuse is by someone who is not the parent or guardian,
contact the parent or guardian, and ask what they plan to do. For
abuse by someone who is not a parent or guardian, the police should be
Behavioral Indicators of Child Abuse
- Symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases
nightmares or the child awakes with "night sweats"
- Complaints of pain, irritation or discharge in the genital
- Painful urination or defecation
- Repeated complaints of stomachaches, headaches, leg pains, throat
- Change in cleanliness
- Change in clothing, dressing more sexually, more revealing, or
covering up more than usual
- Fecal soiling
- Sexualized behavior
- Sudden loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Bed-wetting, or thumb-sucking at an older age
- Sexualized talk
- Touching other children or saying inappropriate sexual statements
to children and/or adults
- Social withdrawal
- Onset of depression or other behaviors
- Onset of truancy
- Chronic runaway behavior
- Onset of substance abuse
- Suicide attempts
- Hints or comments from the child about an incident
- Stories about friends who may have experienced sexual abuse or
- Crying excessively
- Sexual activities with toys or other children
This is in no way a
complete list, but does provide some ideas of physical and behavioral
indicators. You may call the Victim Resource Center of
the Finger Lakes, Inc. at (315) 331-1171 or if an emergency, our
hotline at (866) 343-8808, in Upstate New York, look in your phone
directory, or call telephone information for the Sexual
Assault/Rape Crisis, Domestic Violence, or Child Abuse services agency in your
county or state.
If a child discloses to you, believe the child, and do not question
the child. Do not show your emotions in front of the child, but be
supportive and tell the child that it is not her/his fault. Tell the
child that you believe what s/he has shared with you, and that you are
thankful s/he told you this "secret" or
information and will do your best to help. Do not confront
the alleged perpetrator. Take the steps to ensure
that the child does not come in contact with this person again,
and notify the authorities. Contact your child's
pediatrician immediately. Contact your victim services
agency for advocacy, counseling and/or referrals for therapy for the
"One in five girls and one in
seven boys will be a victim of some type of sexual abuse/assault before the age
of 18. Coupled with physical and emotional abuse, this translates to
over TEN MILLION CHILDREN being abused over the next 18 years in this
country." National Child Advocacy
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) connects a history of child
abuse with increased risk of other health-related issues including, but not
limited to, alcoholism and drug abuse, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
depression, fetal death, heart and/or liver disease, intimate partner violence,
sexualized behaviors, sexually transmitted diseases, suicide attempts, and
*Every six minutes a child is sexually abused in the United States.
*90% of the time, a child is sexually abused by someone they know,
love and, trust.
*Children younger than three years old accounted for 75.5% of child
abuse and neglect fatalities.
*Only 10% of children who are victims of sex abuse are abused by
*80% of young adults who have been abused met the diagnostic
criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder at the age of 21 which included
depression, anxiety, eating disorder, panic disorder, dissociative disorders,
post traumatic stress disorder, reactive attachment disorder and suicide
*Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy
and 3x more likely to practice unsafe sex.
*Nearly 2/3 of people in treatment for drug abuse reported being
abused as children.
*Children who have been sexually abused are 5x more likely to
develop alcohol abuse and 8x more likely to develop drug
Child Advocacy Center
(CAC) is a team approach to providing protection
and justice for child victims of abuse, while increasing the rate of
conviction of the perpetrators of these crimes. The team, a
“multidisciplinary team,” includes specially trained therapists in forensic
interviewing and evaluation, the local sexual & domestic violence
services agency, district attorney representatives, police, child protective
services, medical & hospital personnel, school representatives, public
and mental health, and others working together to ensure that
children are not further victimized by the intervention systems designed to
protect them. The interviews and/or evaluations are
completed in a neutral, centralized, child-friendly setting to
determine appropriate interventions. The CAC may or may not have a medical team
specially trained in the physical examination of children. CAC’s not having
this medical team onsite work with local hospitals to provide this examination
The multidisciplinary approach to intervention, investigation, prosecution, and
treatment of abuse is a successful approach used in over 300 communities across
the country. Members of the team for each case are selected on whether
the case is custodial or non-custodial. The Forensic Interview is
conducted with alleged victims of child abuse to obtain accurate and reliable
information to be used by the team in making child protection, criminal
offense, therapeutic, and intervention decisions. The Forensic
Evaluation involves a licensed clinical social worker’s assessment of a child in
situations where the child is too young or too frightened to fully disclose
her/his experience during an initial forensic interview. Along with
these services, many Child Advocacy Centers provide counseling for children
and their parents, therapy for the child, and services for abuse-reactive
children. The majority of CAC's require a referral from a police
department and/or Child Protective Services. Two Child Advocacy
Center's in our area are:
Bivona Child Advocacy Center
One Mount Hope Avenue
Rochester, New York 14620
Tel: 585 935 7800
Bivona CAC is affiliated with Strong Memorial Hospital's REACH Clinic for Medical Examination of children of sexual and physical abuse.
Child Advocacy Program of the Finger
428 North Main Street