April is Child Abuse Awareness Month
April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month, which is an initiative FYI focuses on every day of the year. This year, our newest initiative has us particularly focused on a form of maltreatment that is just recently gaining awareness: human trafficking.
According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children data for 2019, child abuse reports involved 7.9 million children, with 91 percent of them abused by one or both of their parents.
Of these children, about 61,000 children were sexually abused in 2019. However, the reporting of human trafficking, which is repeated child sexual abuse, was only added as a child maltreament for tracking purposes in 2018. For 2019, latest data shows 29 states reporting 877 unique victims of sex trafficking. Human trafficking experts will tell you these figures severely underrepresent the problem. The lack of human trafficking awareness is glaring, which is why it is officially being incorporated into FYI’s programming.
The name of our new initiative against this evil and immoral practice is Safeguarding Those Oppressed by Predators (S.T.O.P.). In just the past couple of weeks, our entire staff had mandatory human trafficking awareness training from the Ohio Attorney General’s office and we’ve made presentations on this topic to the New Carlisle Rotary and Huber Heights Rotary.
“Human trafficking definitely is a form of child abuse, and it’s a fight that FYI’s three major programs are equipped to have a positive impact on,” said FYI Executive Director Nikki Stefanow. “It naturally fits into our mission of empowering families and providing hope. We want to rescue these children from trauma before it happens.”
The World Health Organization’s definition of child abuse confirms human trafficking as a form of maltreatment. The WHO says child abuse is “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.”
The impact of this plague on our children is catastrophic and long-lasting, according to the American SPCC:
- Children who experience child abuse and neglect are nine times more likely to become involved in criminal activity and 25 percent more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
- About 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children.
- Two-thirds of all people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as a child.
- The cost of child abuse and neglect in the U.S. is estimated to be $585 billion annually.
That’s why FYI is uniquely positioned to fight all forms of abuse in each of its programs.
Our Real Life Teen Choices program is in 65 schools in six counties and therefore has great ability to spread awareness of human trafficking and all other forms of abuse.
“Real Life is so good about educating students about what is healthy and what is not,” Nikki said. “Some kids think it is normal to be abused. It is part of their culture. We are coming in and saying no, this is not normal. This is not acceptable. We empower them to say no and make better, healthier choices to get out of these situations.
“We let them know that we care about them, and we want to see them be healthy,” she added.
Our Parenting Network focuses on breaking generational cycles by teaching better coping skills to young parents and becoming a support system for them.
“We are helping them make better choices, which helps stop the cycle of abuse,” Nikki said. “We show them a different, more positive way of parenting. It takes them a little while to get it, but they eventually understand it leads to healthier results. That prevents abuse, neglect and trauma. We want to stop the cycle of abused children growing up to be child abusers themselves.”
Our Mentoring Program puts us face to face with students.
“This is where we really can get to know them and their family,” Nikki said. “ We’re not just mentoring the child, the parents are picking up on the healthy habits as well.” That helps impact the family as a whole.
FYI’s approach to child abuse awareness has a common thread.
“The generational cycles of abuse and ties to the abusers are so strong that it is really hard to break that bondage,” she said. “But as they see that there is a caring adult in their life that is treating them with respect and love and kindness, that gives them hope that they can do something different.”
If you want to support us as we raise awareness to these and other dangerous, illegal and immoral activities, just give us a call at (937) 845-0403. For more on FYI, follow us on social media on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FYIohio.org or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/fyi_ohio/. Or visit our website at www.fyiohio.org.