Keeping Kids Safe
Did you know 1 in 10 children in the U.S. will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday? Sadly, 90 percent of sexual abuse victims know their abuser. Studies show kids who experience adverse childhood experiences, like sexual abuse, are more likely to adopt risky behaviors like smoking and drug use, develop chronic health conditions such as depression and heart disease, underperform academically and die early.
Abuse doesn’t discriminate. It happens to children of all ages, genders, races, faiths and socioeconomic classes. It is a broad-based, too-common a crime in our country today. Protecting children from sexual abuse must be the number one goal of every person who cares about the health and well-being of kids.
For Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Tampa Y is working with YMCA of the USA to raise awareness and understanding about child sexual abuse with Five Days of Action, April 22-26, 2019. Five Days of Action focuses on prevention by sharing tips on how adults can prevent child sexual abuse.
The Tampa Y encourages you to play a vital role in making Tampa Bay a safer place for children. This year’s Five Days of Action theme is “Know. See. Respond.” When adults know how abuse happens, see the warning signs and respond quickly to prevent abuse, they foster a culture of child abuse prevention. Together, we can bring awareness to the issue and have important conversations around how we can all work together to prevent child sexual abuse from happening.
While we are placing a special emphasis on the topic this month, the protection of youth from abuse is the Y’s top priority every single day. We are proud to have many systems in place to ensure the safety and welfare of all children in our care. To start, the Tampa Y is a registered Hillsborough County Safe Place for Kids. All members and guests at our centers are put through RAPTOR screening to safeguard against sexual predators. This is the same system used with our local public school system. In addition, all staff members receive special mandatory training to recognize and prevent child abuse from occurring. Prior to hire, youth development staff must pass a National Level 2 Background Check, which includes identity verification and finger printing. In addition, our leadership staff conducts reference checks on all serious job applicants.
The Tampa Y is fully committed to doing our part to keep kids protected from abuse, providing safe, enriching environments where children can learn, grow and thrive. 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.
Pictured above: The YMCA Guardians for Child Protection, with support from YMCA of the USA, Darkness to Light, the Redwoods Group Foundation, and Praesidium have made materials available, like the video above, to help adults learn more about preventing child sexual abuse here: FiveDaysOfAction.org.