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Child Sexual Abuse | Spokane Resources can Help
Child Sexual Abuse

  • Sexual abuse is a problem for everyone, whether we have experienced it personally or not, because we are surrounded by both abusers and those who have been abused.  No child in a family or neighborhood is safe from a sexual abuser.   This is everyone’s problem, and everyone must be part of the solution.

  • The ugliest, most preventable, man-made disaster on our planet is sex abuse in its many forms:  Raping adults and children, incest, pornography, and the underground world of sex slaves (child trafficking).  If one child has been abused, it is likely others have been abused also. 

  • When a child is sexually abused, more than 90% of the time it is by someone they know.  Kids have to be taught what the warning signs are.  (Dr. Jon LaPook, MD, CBS News, January 10, 2018)

  • The #MeToo discussions in 2017 revealed children and women who could not speak of experiencing inappropriate sexual behavior from others, until they felt safe decades after the incident.  Children must be taught to "tell someone they trust" at the time of any uncomfortable sexual encounter.  Schools which teach sex education, must also define inappropriate sexual behavior, the laws governing it, and how to report it.   
    • In some of the most extreme cases, the sexually abusive behavior may become a way of life spanning a childhood.  In fact, there have been cases in which children, abused from the time they were very young, wondered whether this kind of activity was a normal part of life.  As these children learn about chastity from teachers and parents, they are deeply confused and may become promiscuous, run away from home, or use drugs.  In later life, some who were abused as children have greater difficulties in forming healthy, trusting, loving relationships.  (Hope and Healing, Maxine Murdock, BYU psychology faculty, January 1993)

    • The memory and pain of the sexual abuse causes victims to lose trust.  They don’t trust other people and they don’t even trust themselves.  Such profound isolation from other people can come close to a kind of insanity.  Sexual abuse causes people to feel grief, shame, hurt, anger, sorrow, rage, guilt, self-loathing, self-doubt, withdrawal, rejection of themselves and rejection of others.  Such victims are certainly entitled to feel rage, violent anger, and a desire for revenge.
    • The results of child abuse are extensive and complex.  Abused children often…
      • Become someone who lies.
      • Become alienated from others in the family.
      • Have low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness.
      • Have impaired social behavior.  
      • Experience depression and medical illness.   
      • Have difficulty in adulthood with physical closeness, touching, intimacy and trust.  
      • As an adult, an abused child may abuse his or her own children.
    • Young girls who have been molested may live with the profound effects the rest of their lives.  Sexually abused children may deal with the pain in such ways as addiction, domestic violence and mental illness.  Sexual abuse can determine what kind of a marriage partner they will be, what kind of a parent, even what kind of a citizen.  Many of these girls will turn to prostitution, where 60-90% of prostitutes have a history of being abused.  
    • Young children are enduring pregnancy and surgical reconstruction as a result of molestation.  
    • Over 90% of child molestation is done by people who already know the child—a trusted family member, relative or friend.  That is significant—adults must remember that.  
    • STD’s are being spread among our children by child molesters.  One in 4 teens has an STD.  
    • Sexual trafficking of children involves smuggling children from Mexico into our country.   The biggest clientele are Americans.  Dozens of rings are bringing children into 48 U.S. states, and setting up brothels where men prey on helpless children.  In addition, mobile brothels will deliver children to other locations.  
    • Some of our children who have disappeared have been taken into the sex-traffic business.   The general age is 14-16, but as young as 5.  An estimated 200,000 youths have been forced into the sex trafficking industry in our country.  Human trafficking is a cruel practice which is all about money and sex.  (Source:  American Dept. of Justice)
    • Statute of Limitations.  In 2009, Washington's statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes was extended from the victim’s 21st birthday to age 28. (Senate Bill 5832)  Under federal law, there is no statute of limitations for child sex abuse.  Victims of abuse may fail to report the abuse because they blame themselves, or feel too ashamed to report the abuse, or feel afraid to speak up, or live for years in ignorance of the actual damage the abuse has caused in many areas of their life, purposely choosing to keep the abuse a secret.  Unfortunately, the victim's silence or lack of an ability to later prosecute the abuser, allows the abuser to move on to other victims.  This 2009 extension allows abused children more time to grow into the courage and maturity to report their own abuse and protect other potential victims. 

    • California protects children from pedophilia and molestation.  They have no statute of limitations.  In California, child molestation is a life felony.  Children need to be protected from predators.

      President Barack H. Obama
      January 16, 2013

      "And so what we should be thinking about, is our responsibility to care for (children), and shield them from harm, and give them the tools they need to grow up, and do everything that they're capable of doing.  This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged.  And their voices should compel us to change.

      "…we must do something to protect our communities and our kids…We have to examine ourselves in our hearts, and ask yourselves what is important?  This will not happen, unless the American people demand it.  If parents and teachers, police officers, and pastors, if hunters and sportsman, if responsible gun owners, if Americans of every background stand up and say, enough.  We've suffered too much pain, and care too much about our children to allow this to continue, then change will -- change will come.

      "Along with our freedom to live our lives as we will, comes an obligation to allow others to do the same.   We don't live in isolation.  We live in a society, a government for and by the people. We are responsible for each other.

      " …when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now, for Grace, for the 25 other innocent children and devoted educators who had so much left to give; for the men and women in big cities and small towns who fall victims to senseless violence each and every day; for all the Americans who are counting on us to keep them safe from harm.

      "Let's do the right thing.  Let's do the right thing for (our children) and for this country that we love so much." 

      (Speaking of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre which took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults, President Obama announced his anti-gun violence plan to curb such violence, and to protect our children.)

    • Parents and teachers can teach children to "Say NO to all abuse, and tell someone!” 

      Child sexual abuse is often perpetrated by people whom parents trust with their children; over 90% by someone they already know and trust - family members, friends, babysitters, coaches, etc.  One in 4 girls, and 1 in 6 boys, will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday.  Only 1 in 10 sexually abused children tell someone.  Every 6 minutes a child is sexually assaulted in the United States.   

      Erin Merryn was sexually abused as a child, beginning at age 7.  Erin says that in school we teach children tornado drills, fire drills, bus drills, bullying intervention, internet safety and the 8 DARE ways to say “no” to drugs; however, we do not teach them how to say “no” to abuse, and to tell someone.  Children must be taught to tell a trusted adult if anyone touches their private parts. 

      Erin’s Law is being passed in state legislatures throughout the U.S.  It requires
      1. age-appropriate personal body safety and sexual abuse prevention curriculum
      2. teaching pre-K through 12th grade students in public schools
      3. educates kids on safe touch/unsafe touch
      4. safe secrets/unsafe secrets
      5. how to get way and tell      http://erinslaw.org

      Any State senator or representative can sponsor this bill, draft it, and introduce it to lawmakers for an eventual vote.  Washington State Representative Gina McCabe has been working on Erin's Law legislation, which relates to public schools implementing a prevention-oriented child sex-abuse program. This came to her late in the 2015 session, so instead of getting a bill through the legislative process, she is looking at funding options in the budget to establish an Erin's Law Task Force.   (Rep. Gina McCabe legislative update, March 27, 2015)  

      Parents and teachers do not need to wait for legislation to pass to begin teaching our children to say NO to sexual abuse.   The “silent epidemic” of child sexual abuse has been hidden for too long.    (CBNNews.com, March 28, 2015)

    • Solicitation of minors for sex online is growing at a rate of 1000% per month.  
    • At least one woman in 10 is sexually abused before age 18—and some say it is as high as one in 3.   Sexual abuse in boys is also one in ten, but believed to be severely unreported, and may be as high as one in 7 boys.   (American Academy of Pediatrics)  

    What You Can Do
    • If you are being (or have been) abused by anyone, find one adult person you trust, and tell them.  No matter how scared, hurt, or alone you may feel, there are many people in Spokane who will help you and protect you. 

      The person who is abusing you, tells you to be quiet, saying
      • "If you tell your parents, they will not believe you."  (That is a lie!  Your parents will believe you, and they will put a stop to the abuse immediately.) 
      • "No one will believe you."  (That is a lie!  Many adults care about you, including the police, and they will believe you and protect you.)
      • "Don't tell anyone.  This is our little secret."  (That is a lie!  Never, never, never keep that kind of a secret.)
      • "If you tell anyone, I will hurt someone in your family."  (That is a lie!  That person cannot hurt anyone else, because he will be in jail.)

    • If you are being sexually abused by anyone, find one person you trust, and tell them. 

    • Call or text 9-1-1, if this is an Emergency.

    • Call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233, and report it.

    • Call Spokane's Lutheran Social Services Sexual Assault Center
      24-hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line:  (509) 624-7273

    • To Parents:  Elizabeth Smart (abducted at age 14 and repeatedly raped for 9 months) tells parents to:

      1. Love your children unconditionally, and make sure they understand what the word unconditionally means.  Make sure they understand that you will love them no matter what they say.  Tell them never to be afraid to tell a parent when they are being hurt, or feel afraid, depressed or have feelings of suicide.

      2. Teach your children that no one has the right to hurt them.  It doesn’t matter who it is.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a family member, a church leader, a school teacher, a friend, someone from work…it does not matter who.  Nobody has the right to hurt you or to scare you or make you feel afraid.  As you talk about basic safety things like fire and talking to strangers, include people who may hurt them.  Most abductions and abuse that take place is not by a stranger.  It is usually someone you know, and someone you trust.  

      3. Teach your children that if someone hurts you or makes you feel afraid or uncomfortable in any way, then tell.  Tell a parent, preferably; but they need to talk about it.  And if someone says, “If you tell your mommy or if you tell your daddy that I’m doing this or we had this conversation, I’m going to hurt them.”  If they ever are threatened, that is a red flag that they absolutely need to tell.  They need to understand from a very young age, that they need to tell you when they are hurting; and that conversation needs to continue as they grow.  
(source:  "Keep Moving Forward," by Whitney Butters Wilde, an interview with Elizabeth Smart regarding her movie "I Am Elizabeth Smart," Deseret News, October 29, 2017) 

    • The child rape epidemic in our country will never end until we are all willing to put our uncles, brothers, husbands, fathers, teachers, coaches, etc. in jail for sexually abusing children.  
    • Adults—be a good listener.  Children will rarely disclose sexual abuse directly—they are too ashamed and worried about your reaction.  Listen for subtle clues.  
    • Teach your children— (and repeat this training occasionally)
      • as much about sex as you feel is appropriate for their age.  Children who are ignorant about sex are much easier for molesters to fool.  
      • The parts of their body that a bathing suit covers are private and special.  
      • There are some people who want to touch children or get children to touch them in ways that are wrong.  
      • No one should ask them to keep a secret from you.  If anyone asks them to keep any kind of secret, tell them to always come and let you know.  No matter what he is told—even if scary threats are made or he has done something wrong himself—it is always OK to come to Mom or Dad and tell them all about it.

      • He/she can always come to you and tell you if anyone touches him/her in a way that’s wrong or makes him/her feel uncomfortable.
      • Simple actions to take in case someone tries to take advantage of them when you are not there.  Role play with questions like, “What if you are lost in a store…what if someone tries to touch your private parts…”  Then, teach them to firmly and loudly say, “No!  Don’t do that!” or “Leave me alone!” Then, go and tell someone you trust.
    • "Youth Protection - How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse:  A Parent's Guide," produced for Cub Scouts up to age 10, and their parents. Produced by the Boy Scouts of America.
      (in Spanish

    • "Youth Protection - How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse:  A Parent's Guide," produced for Boy Scouts age 11 and over, and their parents.  Produced by the Boy Scouts of America. 
      (in Spanish

    • Victims of sexual abuse need professional counseling.   In order for victims to resolve some of their emotional issues, victims need professional counseling from someone they trust, who understands and will listen.  Professional counselors can help victims rebuild their trust in themselves, other people, and God.  They can also help victims find a measure of peace unknown to them up to this time.  
    • Child abuse prevention relies on volunteer work from the public.  “When the community takes an active, cooperative role like this, we can steer kids away from dangerous alternatives,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.  “We not only save the child, we also cut the costs affiliated with drug use, teen pregnancy and violent crime.  Without volunteers, without the community, we can’t do the job we’re assigned to do.”   The Spokesman-Review, April 21, 2007
    • View the Spokane Sheriff’s website, “Crime Prevention Center for Missing Children,” and then consider viewing it again with your children.  
    • Schools.  Teach child abuse in sex education classes, so children recognize and learn how to respond to their own or anyone else’s sexual abuse.  
    • Sex offenders who lure children often threaten to harm them or their family if they tell.  Teach children not to keep these kinds of secrets, and to tell a trusted adult.  
    • Teach children to “Yell and Tell” when they are in any danger or see something dangerous happening.  Teach them to “Yell and Tell” and be a hero.  Many children either run or say nothing, because they don’t want to get into trouble.  Check out the Yell and Tell Foundation which focuses on how to combat 5 dangers—water, poison, fire, guns and child enticement—with 4 practical steps:
    1)  See it (observing something dangerous)
    2)  Feel it (feeling something is wrong—scared)
    3)  Yell (scream to alert attention)
    4)  Tell (the nearest adult)

    The Yell and Tell Foundation is in need of corporate or individual sponsors to contribute funds to this charitable foundation, so Yell and Tell can be taught free of charge in schools and children’s programs nationwide.  Organizations and individuals who work with children can easily learn to teach the program.  Visit their website at http://yellandtell.com
    • Teach children to fight back, scream, and kick if they are grabbed—and never get into a stranger’s car.  
    • Know where your children are, and provide for adequate supervision at all times.  Offenders range from ages 10-90, and can include relatives, care-givers, counselors and friends.  Your presence is the best way to ensure the safety and security of your children.  
    • Teach your children about appropriate touching, explaining good and bad touches.  Teach your children that the parts of their body covered by a swim suit are private.  No one (relative, friend, teacher, minister) has the right to touch them.  
    • Teach children that if anyone wants to play with their private parts, they should run away and tell you or another trusted adult.
    • Teach your children that even teachers, coaches, camp counselors, and clergy do not have the right to touch their private parts, or to take them away for any reason—and to talk to you about it.  
    • Teach your children that sexual advances from adults or older children are against the law.  This will give your children the confidence to assert themselves and speak up when they feel upset, scared, or uneasy with anyone’s behavior.  Parents must take the time to listen when children talk.  
    • Teach children to tell a parent or guardian if anything in the company of another person makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused, and to run to a populated area.  Explain that you can only help if they share with you—and warn them that others may even threaten them if they tell.  Report abuse to law enforcement, and get professional help.
    • Teach children to never get into a stranger’s car for any reason.  Scream and run from strangers who ask them for help.  Predators pretend to need assistance, then lure children into their cars.
    • Teach children to scream and run if anyone threatens to hurt them if they don’t cooperate.  
    • Teach your children to talk to you about any people who give them presents of any kind to buy their friendship (and to gain their trust).
    • Teach children never to be alone with older children or adults without their parents’ permission. 

    • Teach your children that you do not allow them to go on sleepovers with their friends, for safety reasons.  Many youth experience their first introduction to drugs, alcohol and sex abuse at sleepovers. 
    • Teach your daughters that boys (and men) are very visual, and encourage them to dress modestly.    
    • Teach children and students to tell a trusted adult if they receive any sexually offensive, suspicious messages on the computer.   
    • Teach your children NEVER to meet a stranger they have met online.  
    • Take the following precautions:  
      • Keep all computers in a heavy traffic area. 
      • Check the history files often.
      • Use a prefiltered Internet Service Provider (ISP). 
      • Know your children’s online friends.  
    • Make a child ID kit with DNA and fingerprints for all of the children in school.
    • Learn what other States are doing.   
      • Texas recently proposed that sex offenders who are twice convicted of raping children under 14 get the death penalty.
      • Connecticut recently proposed that sex offenders be required to register any e-mail addresses, instant message addresses, or other Internet identifiers with the state police; and those who do not report the information would face up to 5 years in prison.  They also wanted to make it a felony for any person to misrepresent his or her age on the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.
      • In some states, showing up to have sex with a minor after soliciting them online is a felony.  The group at http://PervertedJustice.com will set up decoys and do sting operations.  They are an online watchdog group which catches internet sex predators and exposes them.  They go into chat rooms and pose as 12-15 year olds home alone and interested in having sex.
    Local Organizations
    Additional Resources

    • If you are being sexually abused by anyone, find one person you trust, and tell them.
    • Call or text 9-1-1, if this is an Emergency.
    • Call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233, and report it.
    • Call Spokane's Lutheran Social Services Sexual Assault Center
      24-hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line:  (509) 624-7273

    Report Child Abuse.  If you have concerns about the safety of a child, and believe a child is at immediate risk of severe harm or death, please call 911.   Law enforcement has the authority to shelter a child.  That is what they do, and what they are paid to do.  Child abuse is a top priority in Spokane.  Please call--do not let fear paralyze you.  To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call:

    (509) 363-3333       Child Protective Services (Spokane County),
         8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m./M-F,
         or (800) 562-5624 after 4:30 p.m. and weekends. 

    (509) 456-2233        Crime Check

    (509) 838-6596        Crosswalk
    (teen shelter)

    (509) 838-4428        First Call for Help

    (509) 624-7273        SAFeT Response Center

    (509) 327-5111        Secret Witness  

                                    (PO Box 1205, Spokane, WA 99210)

    (509) 477-2240        Sheriff’s Office

    (509) 343-5039       Non-Offending Parents Support Group. 
    This is a support group for caregivers supporting children who have experienced sexual abuse.

    (800) 422-4453         The National Child Abuse Hotline:  (1-800-4-A-CHILD)

    (509) 242-8477        Tip-Line.  Anonymous Spokane Police Dept. phone line to report any crime that is NOT an Emergency.  Call (509) 242-TIPS.  An officer will call back to verify the information and forward the complaint to the appropriate department within 24 hours; however, after the person has reported and verified the complaint, the caller can remain anonymous. 
    Email:  spdtipline@spokanepolice.org   

    (509) 535-3155           Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery

    (866) 363-4276       Washington State's DSHS  (Dept. of Social and Health Services)