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GBMC "To Your Health" and "Greater Living" Discuss Ending Child Abuse

April 23, 2018
What resources does GBMC provide for survivors of sexual assault and child abuse?

This 90-minute series focuses on the wide range of services and support that GBMC provides for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, domestic abuse, and child sexual abuse, tackling topics many people find difficult to talk about in an open, honest dialogue with experts in the field. It also includes information about a new class, developed by the Beau Biden Foundation, for parents and caregivers that shares important information on how to prevent, recognize, and report child sexual abuse.

Laura Clary, RN, clinical program manager of GBMC’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Program, talked about the services the program provides 24/7/365 for survivors of rape, sexual assault, child abuse, trafficking, and intimate partner violence. “We are here to care for the health and wellbeing of survivors,” she explained. “Every survivor reacts differently. There is no right or wrong way to handle trauma for survivors. People disclose in their own time, in their own way. If a friend or family member tells you they’ve been assaulted or abused, the first thing you should say is that you believe them and you’re there to support them.”

Dr. Michelle Chodow, GBMC Pediatrics, shared her advice on what parents and caregivers can do to help prevent child sexual abuse. “Start by teaching your children the correct anatomically names for all their body parts,” she recommended. “It’s the first step to empowering them and starting a lifelong open, honest, non-judgmental dialogue. They can say no to being touched by anybody, even a hug from grandma. The message is they are in control over their bodies.” She noted that children between the ages of 6 and 13 are the most vulnerable to predators and that sexual abuse is more common than many people realize—1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys will be sexually abused before they reach adulthood. She also acknowledged that talking about sex and sexual abuse is outside many parent’s comfort zone, but by letting your kids know that this is a tough topic for you, they’ll appreciate your honesty and understand that even if they feel uncomfortable talking about it, it’s too important a topic not to talk about.

Patty Dailey Lewis, executive direction of the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, and Lanny Dowell, GBMC’s Parent Education and Doula coordinator, discussed a new child sexual abuse prevention program that GBMC will soon be offering to parents and others in the community. The program, Stewards of Children, will teach parents, caregivers, and community members what they can do to help prevent this type of abuse, warning signs to watch for, and why it’s so important to report abusers. “Our role as adults is to protect children. It’s not their job, it’s ours,” explained Patty. “This program is designed to provide adults with the knowledge and courage to do that.”
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