Crossing the Finish Line

Crossing the Finish Line

This year, No More Stolen Childhoods was honored to be selected by Harrity & Harrity, as a designated nonprofit through the Harrity 4 Charity program. At the beginning of November, they announced that for one month they would be matching donations, up to $45,000! And even at the end of a year that has been unlike any other, our supporters heard the news and have stepped up to support our mission.

2020 Giving Tuesday Campaign

Since November 1st, your generous contributions have raised $43,456 of the $45,000 offered by this matching initiative!

Tomorrow, Dec. 1st, marks both Giving Tuesday and the final day of Harrity 4 Charity’s matching campaign, and we know our friends and supporters can take us across the finish line and make the most of this opportunity.

Donations to NMSC go toward the vital efforts of preventing, intervening, and healing from child sexual abuse. Over the past month, our blogs have discussed some of the ways we do this work; from teaching parents how to prevent online and in-person sexual abuse, to assisting survivors in accessing skilled therapy, to advocating alongside them for crucial legislative reforms. All of these are vital components to changing the conversation around this difficult subject, and they are only made possible by the genuine concern for children and families on the part of community members like you.

We hope you’ll consider this opportunity to double your contribution to NMSC! We thank you, as well as all our donors, volunteers, and partners around the state, including the Harrity & Harrity team. Together we’ve navigated the unknowns of 2020 and we are prepared to move forward into the new year equipped to meet the current need and expand our reach.

Donations must be made before the end of Giving Tuesday (December 1st, 2020) to be eligible for the matching donation.

Supporting Survivors: Counseling and Advocacy

Supporting Survivors: Counseling and Advocacy

Addressing Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) and its aftermath is a multi-pronged effort. In recent blogs we discussed the work No More Stolen Childhoods does to support the prevention of abuse, but we remain cognizant of and deeply committed to the healing of adult survivors of CSA, as well.

Research shows that the average age of disclosure of CSA is 52 years old, and a further 25-33% of the abused never disclose. It is clear that many adults are not ready to seek support or formal healing until many years after their abuse, if ever. At NMSC, we believe that these adult survivors are best supported by therapy with trained providers who understand the impact of CSA. Our Counseling Grants Program facilitates the healing of these individuals, who have carried the weight of past abuse for years and more often decades. We are happy to say that in the first 10 months of 2020 we’ve been able to facilitate 181 counseling sessions for 14 individuals across 6 Maryland counties.

For adult survivors to access greater justice and healing more quickly, there must also be legislative reform, especially to statutes of limitations. These reforms a) allow us to identify previously unknown predators and prevent future abuse; b) shift the financial costs of abuse from victims and taxpayers to abusers and organizations that enabled them; and c) help educate the public about the prevalence and impact of CSA. It is clear that supporting survivors and preventing abuse from occurring in the first place are goals that naturally support each other.

In 2020, 30 states introduced bills for CSA statute of limitations reform. Here in Maryland, No More Stolen Childhoods is an active part of the coalition of organizations that support survivors in advancing the Hidden Predator Act, which would remove the civil statute of limitations and open a two-year window for survivors to bring forth cases that were previously outside of current time restrictions. In 2020 the bill unanimously passed the Maryland House of Representatives, but unfortunately due to COVID-19, the legislative session was interrupted. Undeterred, we look forward to supporting the passing of the Hidden Predator Act in 2021.

Childhood Sexual Abuse is a public health epidemic that directly effects victims’ lives and indirectly effects every facet of our society. By working together toward prevention, intervention, and healing, we can address the ongoing harm and deep injustices inflicted on children, families, and society.

Training Adults to Protect Children and Moving Toward the Tipping Point

Training Adults to Protect Children and Moving Toward the Tipping Point

Children can and should be taught about safe boundaries in age-appropriate ways, but it is the responsibility of trusted adults to know how to identify the risks and take appropriate action when they suspect child sexual abuse. It is only when enough trusted adults know how to protect children that we can reach what Malcolm Gladwell has famously called a “tipping point,” or the point of critical mass. In this case, that’s where a community reaches a cultural change and new norms are set in the prevention of childhood sexual abuse.

Unfortunately, many parents and caregivers feel uncertain about the signs of childhood sexual abuse, how to communicate healthy boundaries with children, and where to make a report. These concerns are often amplified by fears of what will happen if they say something or get involved.

Darkness to Light developed the Stewards of Children training; an adult-focused, evidence-informed curriculum proven to increase knowledge about child sexual abuse and to change behaviors that promote protective factors.

In 2019 No More Stolen Childhoods partnered with GBMC to bring the Stewards of Children program to a broader audience in Maryland. In doing so, we’ve joined a global network of facilitators and trained adults dedicated to making their communities safer. As of 2019, 1.8 million people across 76 countries had received the Stewards of Children training, with 1.6 million of them being in the USA.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Baltimore County COVID19 Emergency Response Fund, we have been able to offer an ongoing virtual series of Stewards of Children trainings. To learn more and to register for a live session, click here. We hope you’ll join the effort and help move your own community closer to the tipping point!

Online Child Sexual Abuse is Increasing – Helping Parents Understand Their Role

Online Child Sexual Abuse is Increasing – Helping Parents Understand Their Role

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recently shared some alarming statistics: Reports of online enticement from January – September 2020 saw a 98.66% increase over from the same period in 2019 (from 15,220 to 30,236). Similarly, reports to the Cyber Tipline in January – September 2020 saw a 63.31% increase over 2019 (from 11,286,674 to 18,432,495).

While statewide statistics are still hard to obtain, in New Jersey, reports to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force have increased 75% this year from the same period of January – October in 2019.

Internationally, a report released in October by Europol’s Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment echoes what has been seen in the United States: the volume of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) uploaded and shared, the frequency of predators’ attempts to make online contact with children, and reports of online abuse from the public have all increased. The report also shares concerns around increasing amounts of self-produced child sexual abuse material.

As a parent, grandparent or caregiver, those statistics can be overwhelming. You want the best for the kids in your life and often resist the urge to “pull the plug” on all the technology that comes into your home. There are tools to help you manage the technology in your home, and there are age-appropriate best practices you can use to navigate the technology you give to your kindergartener and to you teenager.

At No More Stolen Childhoods, we are continuing to raise parental awareness by offering a series of webinars for parents to better understand online safety for kids, tweens, and teens. These free sessions focus on online safety tips and tools for parents and caregivers. Participants will learn best practices for managing and monitoring how your kids interact with technology, and there will be discussion of boundary setting and using available tools that are appropriate to the age of the child.

To learn more, see registration dates, and sign-up for either Keeping Your Kids Safe Online or Keeping Your Tweens and Teens Safe Online, click here or visit the Trainings tab on our website.