The Center has presented Safe Touch 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.
As a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) student at UNC-Chapel Hill, I had the great pleasure of being able to work with the Center, a team of my peers, and UNC faculty advisors to evaluate some of the Center’s school-based prevention programs. Instead of a thesis, the MPH program requires students to do year-long Capstone projects with local organizations, and five of us chose to work with the Center.
I was excited to be able to do my Capstone project on sexual violence prevention because I’d been interested in the field for a long time, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to work with a rape crisis center before. I was also really excited about the project itself: we evaluated the fourth and fifth grade Safe Touch programs, which focus on bystander intervention and cyber- and sexual bullying, as well as the seventh grade Start Strong program, which focuses on addressing gender stereotypes, differentiating between flirting and sexual harassment, and bystander intervention.
When we ask kids about good touches, they talk about hugs, holding hands, and high fives. They often draw pictures showing how happy a good touch can make them.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of our education program to prevent child abuse in Orange County! Through Safe Touch, we have taught countless children how to stay safe and healthy. Research shows that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will suffer sexual abuse before turning eighteen. We’re working hard to combat this grim statistic, reaching 10,000 young people and adults every year through our education programs.
In honor of our 30th anniversary, please join our #30for30 Campaign! For $30 a month – just a dollar a day – you can support our life-changing education program. You can make sure the children in our community don’t have to keep secrets that hurt them. Help us inspire more drawings like this one, full of smiles and Safe Touches.
It’s simple! On our donation page, click “I would like to make a recurring gift,” and enter the amount of your monthly gift in the box underneath. Please contact us at email@example.com with questions or comments.
We support survivors of all types of sexual violence, such as rape, assault, harassment, stalking, sex trafficking, incest, and child sexual abuse. We are also available to talk to those who feel negatively impacted by a sexual experience. Our services are available to all members of the community regardless of race, socioeconomic class, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, language, national origin, and immigration status.