MassKids Gets $80K to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

April 13, 2012 — Massachusetts Citizens for Children, also known as Mass Kids, a Boston-based nonprofit that advocates for the welfare of children, announced that it recently received an $80,000 grant from the Ms. Foundation for Women to fund a campaign that aims to end child sexual abuse.

Massachusetts Citizens for Children (MCC) is the lead agency for the Enough Abuse Campaign, an effort that helps communities build local coalitions to prevent child sexual abuse and provides tools and training to educate parents, youth, and a wide range of professionals about prevention strategies.

MCC Executive Director Jetta Bernier said, “This latest grant will help the campaign move closer to its goal, that by 2015 every city and town in Massachusetts will be actively engaged in preventing child sexual abuse in their homes and communities."

The campaign, which launched in 2002, operates in Gloucester/Cape Ann, Orange/Athol, Newton/Waltham, Greater Springfield, Lowell, and in several western Massachusetts rural communities. MCC is looking to establish the campaign on Cape Cod and in Worcester County.

Betta noted that, following the recent Penn State child sex abuse scandal, which focused on child abuse allegations against a former assistant football coach dating back to the 1990s, many youth-serving organizations are eager to improve their policies around recruitment, hiring, and supervision and offer training about child sexual abuse prevention for staff and volunteers.

Small to mid-size organizations, however, report they lack the resources and expertise that national organizations do to address the issue, she said.

“The Ms. Foundation grant will help the campaign develop a cadre of consultants and trainers who can assist these organizations improve their capacity to keep children safe from sexual abuse in those settings,” according to Betta.

The Ms. Foundations has called the Enough Abuse Campaign "an effort that breaks the mold on child sexual abuse in many ways. It goes beyond a limited set of trainings to foster the building of real and lasting relationships among diverse stakeholders. Its emphasis on community collaboration truly sets it apart from previous efforts."

An assessment of more than 3,000 parents and professionals who participated in community and state-level trainings, conducted by MCC, found that:

  • 95% said the trainings helped them identify problem or abusive behaviors in adults
  • 94% learned how to asses unhealthy sexual behaviors in children and to respond in appropriate and non-shaming ways to address them
  • 95% learned where to go or who to talk to if they suspect someone is sexual abusing
  • 98% would recommend the training to others

According to the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, “Child sexual abuse involves any sexual activity with a child where consent is not or cannot be given. This includes sexual contact that is accomplished by force or threat of force, regardless of the age of the participants, and all sexual contact between an adult and a child, regardless of whether there is deception or the child understands the sexual nature of the activity.

"Sexual contact between an older and a younger child also can be abusive if there is a significant disparity in age, development, or size, rendering the younger child incapable of giving informed consent.”

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