Child sex abuse is a topic most people don't want to discuss, avoiding it so they don't feel uncomfortable.
The fact is, it is a problem and a danger we have to guard our kids against.
I've been in the fortunate position to never have been directly or indirectly involved with the issue. But that could blind me, making me less able to protect the children I hope to have in the future.
Because I hate feeling ignorant and uninformed about a topic, when I received a press release from the Perrysburg Schools about a child sex abuse training I thought it was something I should look into. After a three-hour training session Monday night, I'm glad I did.
The training taught me what "abuse groomers," do to manipulate a child and family. I learned how it is usually people you trust, not strangers. I also sadly found out how common it is. One out of six boys, and one out of four girls encounter sexual abuse, according to the Stewards of Children. I have five brothers, so according to those stats, one of us logically would have been a victim.
Workshop officials also said how most child victims never report the abuse. While I believe that statement, the journalist in me asked the presenter how experts find that information. Program facilitator Sandi Nugent, from the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center, explained how the results were through studies after things would come to light and several people would come forward about an abuser, as well as studying children's habits.
Some signs the program taught me were physical, but mostly emotional and behavioral effects of abuse. Falling grades, change in behavior, withdrawal, depression, unexplained anger or rebellion, as well as nightmares or bed-wetting from kids who have outgrown it are some of the warnings.
It was explained that you need to stay calm and not get upset while a child tries to tell you about a situation so they feel OK talking to an adult about it.
More importantly I learned that this is a real problem that happens to real people, it is not just a statistic. Growing up I looked up to a high school English teacher and football coach who later was caught doing inappropriate things with a girl at school. It happens in the friendly, small towns, too.
I'm thankful I went because when I do decide to have a child I will know not to avoid the topic. I will want my child to know I won't be mad at them, and will tell them to immediately tell me if someone touches them inappropriately, that it is not OK. That I will believe them even if it is someone we know and previously trusted - because it is usually those people.
I would urge anyone who is suspects child abuse to contact the Children's Advocacy Center at 419-292-2927. The affect it could have on the welfare of our young people is profound.