Oh Baby: Program empowers children to "Take Charge of Your Body" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Oh Baby: Program empowers children to "Take Charge of Your Body" and prevent sexual abuse

Posted:
WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Children who experience sexual abuse often live for years with a painful secret.

Family and Children's Council of Black Hawk County is on a mission to rescue children in the midst of abuse, and ultimately prevent sexual abuse, through a special program called "Take Charge of Your Body".

Fourth graders at Orange Elementary in Waterloo learn to take charge of their bodies as part of a sexual abuse prevention program.

Program Director Glenda Husome said, "The stats are that by age 18, one in four girls and one in five boys will be sexually abused in some way. And I'm on a mission to change those numbers."

Husome trains volunteers, like retired teacher Marilyn Teig, to go to elementary schools and present to each class. The program reaches 8,000 to 9,000 people a year.

The take home message of take charge of your body is no, go, tell.

No - say no right away to anything that feels uncomfortable.

Go - get out of the situation as soon as you can.

Tell a trusted adult and keep talking until somebody helps you.

Husome says her goal is to reach every school every year in Black Hawk County.

She knows personally just how important the message is.

"I am so passionate about it because I was faced with two situations where I was sexually abused. I don't want them to have to be keeping that secret," she said.

Husome says the program has already helped save children experiencing ongoing abuse.

"If I can help it stop at that day, that's how I put it into perspective, is that it ends on that day for that student, for that child."

Presented in a matter-of-fact and age appropriate way, the message seems to be reaching students.

Fourth-grader Abby Avis said, "If this happens to you, you have the right to say no.  And if you can, leave, tell someone. And it's never your fault.  And if the first person you tell doesn't believe you, tell more people."

Volunteer Marilyn Teig asked the class, "If someone says I don't believe you, what are you going to do?

"Keep telling," the class said.

"Is it your fault?" Teig asked.

"No!" the class answered.

In the end, the program reaffirms positive touch, and empowers children to Take Charge of Their Body.

"You have the right to say no," Teig said. What's your three word plan: No, go, tell. Very good."

The program director assures parents, this is not a sexual education course.

It simply helps children develop a safety plan.

Safety experts want parents to know sexual abuse is often committed by a family friend or family member.

Some warning signs your child may be abused from stop it now.org:

  • Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
  • Seems distracted or distant at odd times
  • Has a sudden change in eating habits
  • Refuses to eat
  • Loses or drastically increases appetite
  • Has trouble swallowing.
  • Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
  • Leaves "clues" that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
  • Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
  • Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
  • Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
  • Talks about a new older friend
  • Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
  • Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
  • Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge

Signs more typical of younger children:

  • An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
  • Has new words for private body parts
  • Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
  • Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
  • Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
  • Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

Click here for a helpful list of resources for parents.

Prevent Child Abuse Iowa reports Black Hawk County has fallen from being 5th in the state for incidences of abuse to 20th.

It is the first time in approximately 10 years that the county has not been in the top 12.

The county now ranks 65th in the state for incidences of child sexual abuse.

Volunteers at Take Charge of Your Body say they would like to believe their program has helped prevent at least some abuse cases.

Powered by Frankly