U.S. Olympian Margaret Hoelzer Urges Action
HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Nov. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As details about the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal continue to emerge, Chris Newlin, Executive Director of the NCAC, is heartened that outrage is turning into action.
"This can be the beginning of a monumental shift in how people across the country respond to child sexual abuse," says Newlin.
There is a huge gap between what people say they would do if they suspected child sexual abuse and how they actually respond. In a 2010 report by Stop It Now!, nearly all of 5,000 adults surveyed said they would intervene, but among those who knew an adult they thought was sexually abusing a child, only 37% called police. And worse, 22% did nothing.
"Unfortunately, this is the common reaction. We are all horrified when this stuff comes out, but few people are willing to take action when it truly matters," said Margaret Hoelzer, U.S. Olympian, child sexual abuse survivor and NCAC national spokesperson.
Newlin says most people would call 911 if they saw an elderly woman being beaten, and asks why the reporting of child sexual abuse is any different. Sexual abusers are often respected leaders, family members or friends. They thrive in an environment of denial and silence.
Children's Advocacy Centers educate people about how to create communities where children are protected and sexual predators cannot hide.
To protect children, Newlin encourages all adults to do five things:
- If you suspect child sexual abuse, call police immediately.
- Learn common warning signs: deteriorating school performance; fear of being alone with a particular person; changes in eating or sleeping habits.
- Insist that programs in your community have and follow child protection policies.
- Learn about and support organizations that protect children.
- Talk about it. Use social media to keep the conversation going.
To learn how to protect children in your community, visit the "We Are. You Can." public awareness campaign at www.weareyoucan.org.
The NCAC is located in Huntsville, Alabama. The non-profit organization provides extended services in prevention, intervention, and treatment for abused children. The NCAC serves as a model for more than 900 Children's Advocacy Centers in the U.S. and throughout the world; and gives hope to more than 250,000 child abuse and neglect victims every year. For more information, visit www.nationalcac.org.
Catherine Hereford, (256) 327-3780, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE National Children's Advocacy Center