5 Tips for Finding the Right Babysitter

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blog postWhether you’re rushing to complete errands or enjoying a nice date night, it’s likely that you often find yourself in need of a babysitter for your kids. However, it can be difficult to find a person you trust completely to take care of your child. 1 in 10 children experience sexual abuse before the age of 18, and 40% of instances of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by older youth. With Child Abuse Prevention Month coming up in April, here are some tips for choosing the right person to care for your child.

1. Ask the potential babysitter for references. Talk to parents of kids they have cared for in the past as well as references for any other jobs they may have held to get a better sense of who they are. Read more


Purple Ribbon of Excellence

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purple-ribbon-of-excellenceWe are excited to announce that the Orange County Rape Crisis Center has been awarded the inaugural Purple Ribbon of Excellence! Presented by the Training and Education Committee of the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission, the Purple Ribbon of Excellence recognized the Center’s efforts to prevent child sexual abuse through our community education programs.

Over the last thirty years, our Safe Touch program for children and our Start Strong program for teens have helped prevent child sexual abuse by teaching children and adolescents to identify inappropriate behavior, to develop an understanding of consent and healthy relationships, and to stand against sexual violence in their schools and communities. These programs are designed for continuous learning, which means that students in every public school in Orange County will receive Safe Touch (preK through 5th grade) or Start Strong (7th and 9th grade) programming year after year, so the skills and knowledge they gain are consistently reinforced and built upon. Conversations that start with learning your own bodily autonomy and boundaries eventually shift to how these ideas apply to treating and respecting others. Read more


The Sexual Abuse-to-Prison Pipeline

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At the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Mass Incarceration

Over the past couple of years, sexual violence in America has received much more attention as the issue of sexual assault on college campuses has exploded into the mainstream consciousness. As the public, students, and higher education institutions continue to grapple with this epidemic, the Human Rights Project for Girls reminds us with their recently released study, The Sexual Abuse To Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story, that sexual violence does not impact only college age youth. It impacts young girls, particularly young girls of color (primarily African-Americans, Latinas, and Native Americans) as well as youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) or gender non-conforming (GNC). Young girls of color and LGBT/GNC girls are at a particularly high risk because the justice system punishes youth of color and youth who do not conform to gender norms much more harshly than their white heterosexual counterparts.

What does sexual abuse have to do with incarceration?

Experiencing sexual abuse puts girls at enormous risk for arrest and incarceration. When girls are arrested, it is rarely because they have committed a violent crime. More often than not, they are arrested because they have become truant, run away, or engage in substance abuse (which are called status offenses for youth under 18). Why did they stop going to school or run away from home? The answer, in many cases, is that girls are running away from abusive situations. They are then arrested and locked up for running away.  This is the cycle that is the sexual abuse-to-prison pipeline. At the root of this cycle is sexual violence. The reactions girls have to this violence — which they are punished for — are merely coping behaviors.

Wait, so…they are victims of sexual abuse, and they run away to escape the abuse, but running away is a crime, so they get arrested?

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SafeTouch Success Story

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alexis and puppetsThe Center has presented SafeTouch to kids in our community for over 30 years. These violence prevention education programs use evidence-based best practices in age-appropriate lessons to promote safety and reduce child sexual abuse. The curriculum is continually reviewed and updated with teacher and parent input.

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is unfortunately much more common than many people realize. Darkness to Light (D2L), a national organization to end child abuse, estimates that about 1 in 10 children experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. Even more children experience non-contact sexual abuse. Only about a third of kids tell someone when they experience abuse. CSA occurs across all demographic groups and can have long-lasting negative impacts such as physical and mental health problems, emotional and behavioral issues, and poor academic performance.

Though the problem of CSA looms large, the Center has a successful prevention program on multiple counts. First, by sheer numbers, we are very successful in getting these crucial public safety messages out to the county. We present SafeTouch programs in every classroom of every elementary school in both local school districts. Overall, we reached 14,805 youth and adults in 865 education programs during the 2013-2014 school year. Read more


Partners in Prevention

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Partners in PreventionThe Center is an official “Partner in Prevention,” a nationally-recognized public standard to end child sexual abuse (CSA). The designation was awarded for our commitment to protecting children by training 100% of our staff on how to prevent, recognize the signs, and react responsibly to CSA.

The “Partner in Prevention” designation was created as a national standard to help parents and caregivers recognize organizations who take CSA prevention seriously by training staff and implementing effective prevention policies. The training and designation award is provided by Darkness to Light. D2L has championed the movement to end CSA since its founding in 2000 and now has education programs in 49 states and 15 foreign countries.

D2L’s training curriculum points out that CSA is pervasive in a society where it is repressed and not discussed. Though 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18, less than a third of cases are reported. Thousands of organizations across the United States and Canada are now seeking out a dialogue for prevention, and they are sending parents and the community a message with the Partner in Prevention distinction.

Rachel Valentine, the Center’s Rape Prevention Educator Coordinator, is a trained facilitator for D2L’s Stewards of Children program. In addition to training our own staff, she provides prevention education for adults across the Orange County community. The Stewards of Children program is especially designed for parents and caregivers of children. In the 2012-2013 academic year, Rachel trained 141 adults in proven child abuse prevention techniques.

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“Mommy, What’s Rape?”

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"What's Rape?" How to Answer This Tough QuestionWhether your child hears the word rape in the news, reads it on the internet, or sees it on one of our materials, there are age-appropriate ways to talk to your child when he or she asks about it.

However, even before this comes up in conversation, there are a few things parents can put into practice with children and teens that will help set the stage for this discussion.

1. We want kids to know that their private parts are for them and off limits to others, but we also want them to know what they are and be comfortable talking about them. Using the anatomically correct terms of vagina, vulva, and penis can promote positive body image, self-confidence, and parent-child communication. Conversely, using euphemisms to describe private parts can promote the ideas of shame, discomfort, and embarrassment about bodies. And in the event of inappropriate touch, being able to use anatomically correct words helps the child be specific when reporting to parents or police.
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