Pledge to Prevent™: Citizens Taking Action to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

Show your Hand. Take a Stand. Join the movement that’s building across our country. YOU can prevent child sexual abuse. We’ll show you how.

The Problem

We are all indebted to the women and men whose courage has sparked our current national conversation about sexual violence, and to the backers of #MeToo for providing a platform to support survivors. However, as the nation focuses on sexual assault in the workplace, many voices cannot speak out - those of literally millions of children and teens living with the trauma of sexual abuse today. They are confronted with the biggest imbalance of power any person can face - sexual abuse by a family member, other trusted adults, or another child or teen. One in 4 girls and 1 in 20 boys self-report at least one sexual victimization in their lifetime. Over half of these reports include offenses by other children or teens, such as in the alleged sexual assault which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford described to the nation in her recent testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Consider that the average age of sexual abuse/assault victims is 8. We can and must change this.

So, while raising awareness about adult sexual assault, identifying victims, and providing them with support and legal services is critical, these alone will not prevent child sexual abuse - a problem the AMA has aptly labeled “a silent epidemic.” It will not address the 4.5 million school children K-12 across our country who, according to the U.S. Department of Education, experience sexual misconduct or abuse at the hands of adult school employees and student peers. The task now is to expand our focus to prevent the sexual abuse and assault of children in their “workplaces,” that is, in the places where children live, learn and play, and where they deserve to be safe. Pledge to Prevent™ gives individuals like you a way to do that.

The Solution

Pledge to Prevent™ is a new online, social media campaign just launched by Enough Abuse, a citizen education/community mobilization campaign working in several states to prevent child sexual abuse. As a visitor to the site, you are encouraged to be a Champion for Children and to “Show Your Hand. Take a Stand.” by uploading a photo of yourself with raised hand declaring “Enough!” Your photo is immediately posted on the site’s Photo Gallery along with your own 2-word description, e.g. “I am a father and a mailman,” “I am a teacher and a survivor,” etc. You can then choose to select another pledge from among 25 pledges under categories from Learner, Educator, Safe Community Promoter, to Movement Builder.

Once you select your pledge, you promptly receive an email acknowledging your participation in the campaign, including links to 2-3 tailor-made resources to help you carry out your specific pledge. Over 30 resources, e.g. booklets, videos, posters, reports, etc. are included in the pool of resources. You can also experience the reach of the campaign through a real-time Pledge Count and a U.S. Map documenting activity in each state and the campaign's growing movement across the country. Everyone can take the Pledge – family members, everyday citizens, students, town or city leaders, school employees, youth organization staff, governors, legislators, district attorneys, child welfare workers, police, church members, as well as sports, media and entertainment celebrities. Pledge today, then become a Pledge Ambassador and promote the Pledge to Prevent™ with all your social media and community contacts. You CAN prevent child sexual abuse!

Planned Use Of Funds

Many of us learn best by seeing others do what we would like to do, but have not had the words to use or the confidence to act. To support everyone to take actions to prevent child sexual abuse, we seek to produce several instructional “Video Vignettes” to include in the Pledge resources. For example, children often give verbal cues when they are confused or concerned about inappropriate touching, but busy parents often dismiss these cues. When a child is told that Jenny will be babysitting on Saturday night, the child fusses: “Oh, does she have to babysit me again!” “Yes,” says the parent, “she charges less per hour. I don’t want to hear any more about it.” Parents can be guided instead to use their child’s objection to probe further, “Why don’t you want Jenny to come over? Don’t you like her? What do you do together when she babysits?” This give the child a chance to share any concerns he or she might have and could help assess if this caregiver is appropriate.

We have developed 8 scripts depicting a variety of practical ways parents can learn to better protect their children from sexual abuse. With funds from Shared Nation, we will partner with videographers to produce these teaching videos, add them to the Pledge Resources, and post them on other social media sites for everyone to see and learn.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

MassKids is a 60-year old private, citizen-based child advocacy organization and a national leader in child abuse prevention. The Enough Abuse Campaign, a program of MassKids, was established in 2002 under a 5-year grant from the federal CDC with the directive to “build adult and community responsibility for preventing child sexual abuse.” Enough Abuse has been adopted in several states and includes: building state and local CSA prevention coalitions; educating parents and communities; training professionals; promoting prevention policies in schools and youth organizations; and advocating for laws to prevent sexual abuse, provide accountability for abusers, and justice for survivors.