Officials: Sex abuse highest child abuse in Escambia County
Did you know 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old? At least 20 percent of those victims are only 8 years old.
The month of April is national child abuse awareness month. Escambia County Regional Child Advocacy Center Director Stephanie Myrick said the abuse she and her team deal with the most in this county is sexual abuse.
Myrick said the most important thing parents can do to keep their children safe is to keep an open line of communication with them.
“Always impress upon your children that they can talk to you about anything regardless of its severity,” Myrick said. “Many children tell me that they were afraid to tell their parents about sexual abuse because they didn’t want to upset them. If children are taught early on to always talk to mama about anything, most of them will.”
Ninety percent of sexual abuse victims know their abuser, meaning most abusers are a close family member or friend.
“That’s one of the toughest things because we also encourage children to open up to someone that they love and trust, but often times the same people we’re encouraging these kids to confide in are the ones that hurt them,” Myrick said.
Myrick said children spend nine months out of the year, eight hours a day and five days a week at school, so the person she believes parents should also encourage their children to confide in is the school counselor. The school counselor is adequately trained to handle these issues.
The Escambia County Regional Child Advocacy Center works alongside the county Department of Human Resources and law enforcement. For more information on child abuse prevention, go to www.escambiacac.org or dhr.alabama.gov .