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Headlines remind us of the need to protect our children

Editor:
    On March 12th, the headlines again contained a reported arrest for alleged sexual abuse charges against a man from our area. We think everyone will agree that sexual abuse is a heinous act and even more so when it involves children. People read the headlines with shock and dismay and hope and pray that this will never happen to our children or grandchildren. Many of us research registries where the names of sexual offenders are published, often times with pictures. Certainly, this is a wise practice.

We often envision a sexual perpetrator as a sleazy looking stranger in shabby clothing who tries to entice children with candy or a puppy. However, research shows that nine out of 10 children are sexually abused by someone they know and trust, most often a relative, as was the case in the most recent report.
    There are ways to prevent these senseless physically and emotionally damaging incidents from happening to our children. Prevent Child Abuse Georgia is a statewide private non-profit organization dedicated to child abuse prevention and relies on community support and volunteers to assist in its efforts to end child abuse in Georgia. Prevent Child Abuse Georgia has developed an outstanding educational child sexual abuse prevention strategy, called Stop It Now! Georgia, which teaches adults and organizations to recognize both the healthy and developmentally expected as well as the unhealthy behaviors in children and in the adults who are responsible for their safety. This well-designed strategy helps individuals and organizations to develop safety plans in their homes and protective practices and policies in their community, thus preventing abuse from ever happening.

We can only wonder if this kind of knowledge had been available, would the outcome for this child have been different? How many opportunities might there have been to recognize and intervene before the child was harmed? The prevention of child sexual abuse is everyone's responsibility, and the first step is learning how each of us can protect all children.
    As certified trainers in Prevent Child Abuse Georgia's child sexual abuse prevention strategy, we have presented the Stop It Now! Georgia workshop in Bulloch County to child care providers, parents, foster parents and volunteers with excellent response from participants.

We would like to present this program on a widespread-basis to parent groups, child care facilities, schools, church groups and any organizations concerned with the welfare of our children. That should include us all, as child abuse and child sexual abuse are not only a personal concern, but a community problem as well. Please join us in getting the word out about prevention of child sexual abuse. This free workshop can be scheduled by calling the Prevent Child Abuse Bulloch County office at (912) 764-9462 or via e-mail at pcabullochcounty@frontiernet.net. Prevent Child Abuse Bulloch County is a member of Prevent Child Abuse Georgia's chartered council network and has been serving the Bulloch County community for the past 27 years.
    For more information about how to create a safety net around children at home and in communities, please call the Prevent Child Abuse Georgia HELPLINE at 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373) 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday through Friday, or go to www.preventchildabusega.org.
    Together we can protect our children.
Linda Carlson, President
For the Love of Larry Project
Lora Cooper, Executive Director
Prevent Child Abuse Bulloch County

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