Local organization trains community on preventing child sexual abuse
Stand to Protect launched its education pilot program in 2019
FARGO, N.D. — Some say child sexual abuse is an invisible health crisis happening all around us.
Last year alone, the Red River Children’s Advocacy Center conducted more than 350 forensic interviews with children who were sexually abused in the region.
According to local experts, only 16 percent of victims report their sexual abuse during childhood, and the effects of that can be devastating.
“Some children, they’ll keep it inside and maybe talk about it when they’re an adult. For some, they will never tell, but the downstream effects are addiction, drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety, depression, and even suicide. So, we need to get out in front of this issue with a prevention effort like what we’re doing today,” says Stand to Protect Program Director Tami Rust.
That’s why Stand to Protect launched an education program aimed at training adults on preventing the issue before it even happens.
“For far too long, people have just felt fear. And so it’s great to be out there lessening their fears and giving confidence to them about what they can do.”
Piloting their training program in 2019, and now launching in full force for the new year, Stand to Protect is educating local businesses, churches, schools and organizations including police departments.
“Police are certainly very much a partner in this work. Police are very important ambassadors in our community. They are sought after for their knowledge, so it’s important that they have the knowledge to pass along to other adults in our communities,” says Rust.
“Anytime there’s even a single victim, it’s a problem. There is no such thing as an okay statistic in this category. So, even if there’s one, that’s an issue that needs to be dealt with,” says West Fargo Assistant Police Chief Jerry Boyer.
The West Fargo Police Department is one of the organizations to have already received the training.
“This is something that is very viable. It’ll be a very good training tool for any individual who has interaction with children or groups,” he adds.
Those at Stand to Protect say they’re here to prove there are things adults can do in their children’s lives to keep them safe from sexual abuse.
Visit www.standtoprotect.org to sign up for a free session or get more information.