How Speaking up can Stop Child Abuse. 

By Adrianne Pearl Gimenez

At the start of 2019, child abuse came to the forefront of media attention with the release of “Abducted in Plain Sight”, “Surviving R. Kelly”, and “Leaving Neverland”. The exposés shocked and captivated millions of viewers, as survivors spoke up against their abusers on national television. Guardian Angels’ Prevention Coordinator and past CASA volunteer, Janice Masokas applauds the brave survivors for telling their story, “People are encouraged to speak out like never before. It gives people hope and courage to speak up.”

“Abducted in Plain Sight”, “Surviving R. Kelly”, and “Neverland” focused on abuses that happened in the past and have the common theme of predators who were able to deceive and groom the public. Masokas explains, “Groomers are liars and master manipulators. Even if you may suspect something is off, we naturally shut down our instinct because we don’t want to feel foolish if we’re wrong”.

In the US, 1 in 10 children are sexually abused. As the Prevention Coordinator for Guardian Angels, Masokas visits schools and helps teach children body safety. She states, “The best way to prevent child sexual abuse is to talk about it. Teach children permission and boundaries. Kids need to learn words like ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘unsure’ so they can tell adults. Most importantly, teach kids that they are valuable and deserve to be treated right.”

Children in foster care are especially vulnerable. “This is where CASA’s can help a whole lot. By bonding with the children and looking out for their wellbeing, CASA’s can help guard them against predators.” said Masokas.

When it comes to what the average person can do, Masokas says, “Be advocates and encouragers. Be aware and believe survivors. We want children to disclose now and we have to show them that it’s safe to do so”. She adds, “Survivors need to know that they are worth the fight and there are people who will fight for them”.

If you or a loved one has been sexually abused, call the Guardian Angel’s 24-hour sexual assault hotline at (815) 730-8984.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 Newsletter. To read the full newsletter click here.

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