We believe that sexual abuse of children is preventable.
We believe that the best hope for preventing child abuse is by enacting and strengthening the following policies and prevention efforts in our communities:
- Promoting accurate information
- Enhancing services to children who are victims of sex abuse
- Providing specialized treatment programs for people who have committed a sexual offense
- Offering timely sexuality education
- Improving our understanding of behaviors that make children vulnerable
Our efforts are guided by this understanding: to truly prevent harm to children, adults need to accept responsibility for recognizing, acknowledging and confronting behaviors that lead to abuse. More importantly, any long-term prevention strategy must change societal norms, so the sexual abuse of children is not tolerated and appropriate forms of help, support and accountability are provided to child victims and adult survivors, those who sexually abuse children, and the families of both.
Our strategies, messages, materials and services attempt to balance the rights of victims and their families with appropriate and effective accountability and help for people who harm children – over 40% of whom are other minors themselves. Stop It Now! programs work to move beyond just addressing the impact of child sexual abuse to seek out the root causes and identify ways to prevent abuse before a child is harmed.
Stop It Now! relies on the public health model to create programming. Using a combination of research-based public education materials, media messages, and training tools, we seek to change the social climate and foster the prevention of child sexual abuse.
Public health campaigns in the past have shown that advocates can successfully demand change in our communities by challenging societal attitudes (i.e. "friends don't let friends drive drunk"). Communities have demanded effective public policies which will promote the public health (i.e. regulations which prevent smoking in public places). Individuals and communities also have a role to play in preventing the sexual abuse of children.
Using the results of interviews and focus groups with survivors, people who have abused children in the past, and the family members of both, Now! developed and continues developing:
- Sharply focused prevention education materials
- Media messages
- Training tools
Our package of tools includes:
- Information about setting standards for respectful behavior in our families, with friends and in the community that promote healthy, safe relationships that protect children.
- Resources for all adults to learn to recognize and challenge problematic behaviors that make children vulnerable to abuse.
- Information and support so those at risk to abuse can get help before they hurt a child.
- A challenge to anyone currently abusing a child to stop the abuse immediately, and to develop a plan to take whatever steps necessary to accept responsibility for the harm they’ve caused and to turn their lives around.
- Strategies and advocacy to build a social climate where every adult is committed to the idea "We will no longer tolerate the sexual abuse of children."
These tools are designed to motivate and support adults to step forward, to speak up, and take action to protect children. With the help of all adults, we have been working to identify, refine and share ways that adults and communities can effectively intervene to protect children and get help for everyone involved.
Stop It Now! provides a place for adults to voice questions and concerns about child sexual abuse and gives them and their communities the resources to take action. This includes sharing information about creating healthy, respectful boundaries in our families, recognizing and responding to boundary violations before a child is harmed, and promoting healthy behaviors that protect children.