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The Madison Record

Five Days of Action at YMCA spurs adults to protect children from sexual abuse

MADISON COUNTY – Hogan Family YMCA is promoting “Five Days of Action” on Oct. 26-30, a week designed to raise awareness and inspire adults to take action to protect children from sexual abuse.

Halloween on Oct. 31 is a holiday associated with good-natured fun with costumes and trick-or-treating. Heart of the Valley YMCA reminds adults of their responsibility for childre’s safety year-round.

“As our communities continue to participate in social distancing, we know that protecting kids looks different this year,” Mary Anne Swanstrom said. Swanstrom is Director of Communications at Heart of the Valley YMCA.

“Not only is our community dealing with a pandemic that is separating kids in need from the safe adults in their lives, but there are spikes in domestic violence, cries for social justice for Black lives and more concerns about the mental health of youth and adults,” Swanstrom said.

Five Days of Action can help communities and parents or caregivers to take it ‘one day at a time’ and offer tips, tools, activities and resources relevant to the current environment.

Statistics about sexual abuse of children are frightening, as provided by Darkness to Light organization:

* One in 10 children will be sexually abused before his or her 18th birthday.

* Ninety percent of victims of child sexual abuse know their abuser.

* Relatives are guilty of abuse for 30 percent of children.

* Sixty percent of victims never tell anyone.

* False reports are rare. Research shows that ‘victims’ fabricate only four to eight percent of sexual assaults.

“When adults know how abuse happens, see the warning signs and respond quickly to prevent abuse, they foster a culture of child abuse prevention,” Swanstrom said. “Together, we can bring awareness to the issue of child sexual abuse in our communities and have important conversations around how we can all work together to prevent it from happening.”

“Protecting children from sexual abuse must be the number one goal of every person who cares about the health and well-being of kids,” Jerry Courtney, President/CEO of Heart of the Valley YMCA said. “Together, we can stand up to demand that children are protected and encourage adults to make it happen in our community. It takes all of us.”

Heart of the Valley YMCA is offering worksheets and activity resources to help adults learn more about preventing child sexual abuse. Other supporting organizations are YMCA Guardians for Child Protection, YMCA of the USA, Darkness to Light, Redwoods Group Foundation and Praesidium. Visit fivedaysofaction.org.

For more information, visit ymcahuntsville.org/blog.

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