|The Power to Protect|
|November 07 2011 | written by: admin|
By Sally Napthali
It was a big surprise when I told my mother that a trusted family member had sexually assaulted me as a child. She had no idea.
In fact you would probably be surprised at how many people are affected by child sexual assault. According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies one in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they reach adulthood. Hetty Johnston (pictured) founder of Bravehearts declares this statistic a “national disgrace”.
Johnston and the team at Bravehearts are dedicated to tackling the issue of child sexual assault. Their aim is to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child. The biggest hurdle the organisation faces is convincing parents they need to educate their children about personal safety with sexual assault. Many parents find it hard to believe it could happen to their family, and are confident there is no risk.
Bravehearts confirm that child sexual assault can affect anyone. It has no social or economic barriers, and the offenders are often people we trust. My mother was devastated I had been assaulted whilst being cared for by someone she trusted. No one knew of the danger, you couldn’t tell there was a risk.
If you have lived through sexual assault, you will know the damage is not over when the assault stops. As a young adult I battled anorexia, sleeping problems, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Bravehearts confirm that these types of struggles are common amongst adult survivors of child sexual assault. Johnston states “This is why it is so important to make educating children a priority, to radically reduce the number of children being assaulted each and every year.”
Parents and schools spend a lot of time and effort teaching children about safety. They teach children about road rules, water safety and electrical and fire safety, yet in all this we neglect to teach children about the one thing that a high percentage of them are being exposed to.
Bravehearts are leading the way to change all this. They have created an interactive CD-ROM – Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure (for children aged 3-9). The CD-ROM has been developed with assistance from the best minds in child protection in the country. It’s fun, safe and has been proven to work through its use by many families, schools and childcare centres in four states across Australia. Amazingly, an independent evaluation of the program predicts that Australia could reduce child sexual assault by 50% through teaching this program.
Positive change for the next generation of Australians is happening and it will continue to happen as governments and schools get on board with this effective work Bravehearts are doing. Parents, carers, schools and childcare centres can access Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure through http://www.bravehearts.org.au Brave.hearts also provide support, counselling and reporting assistance for anyone in need, and a psychologist is available to take calls from 9am to 4pm weekdays. Phone 1800 BRAVE1 (272 831)
About Sally Napthali