JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A free online class is now available to anyone who wants to learn how to protect their children from sexual abuse.
A coalition of local groups including the Monique Burr Foundation for Children and the First Coast YMCA is offering the class. The coalition is trying to get 50,000 people to enroll in the two-hour class.
First Coast YMCA also has several employees who can teach the class to large groups or corporations.
1 in 10 children are sexually abused by the time they reach 18 years old.
90 percent of children who are sexually abused know their abuser. It is someone they know, love or trust.
40 percent are abused by older or larger youth, like babysitters or cousins.
The program, Darkness to Light, teaches parents how to start the conversation with their children about their bodies and who is and is not allowed to touch them. It has five steps:
1) Learn the Facts:
Realities rather than blind trusts should influence a parents' choices regarding children's safety from sexual abuse.
2) Minimize Opportunity:
Eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations to decrease risk for abuse. More than 80% of sexual abuse incidents happen in isolated, one-one-one situations with a child.
3) Talk About It:
Have open conversations with children about their bodies, sex and boundaries. The online class teaches adults why children are afraid to tell. It also teaches you how to spot the different ways a child tries to communicate abuse, if they are too fearful to actually say it out loud.
4) Recognize the Signs:
There are warning signs of abuse. These include physical and behavior changes in your child. Predators send subtle signals too.
5) React Responsibly:
Understand how to respond to risky behaviors and suspicions or reports of abuse.
The class also teaches parents of older teens about the child pornography and sexually explicit images often shared among teens on social media and via text.
To take the free online class click here. The class was created by a nonprofit organization called Darkness to Light. The program raises awareness and educates adults about how to prevent and recognize child sexual abuse.