Category Archives: Teaching Children

Abuse Victims Making Big Difference

.jpg photo of Child Abuse Advocates
Keely, Kiera, Kristin and Nieve Parry hold the Anne Freimuth Child Advocate of the Year award.

Utah Child Abuse victims-turned-advocates

SALT LAKE CITY, UT  –  The winners — who are abuse survivors — stress forgiveness, staying positive and drawing strength from others.

As 8-year-old Keely Parry sat in her third-grade classroom listening to a presentation about sexual abuse seven years ago, she had a realization.

Her father had been abusing her and her older sister Kiera.

Their father was eventually convicted of the abuse, and the girls became advocates for other victims.

On Wednesday, Keely, Kiera and their sister Nieve Parry were recognized, along with fellow abuse survivors Grant Rutherford and Alex Smith, for advocating at a young age and working to prevent further abuse.

Prevent Child Abuse Utah (PCAU), an agency that works to educate the public and stop child abuse, presented the awards at a breakfast ceremony in Salt Lake City.  According to a PCAU news release, 1 in 5 children in the U.S. is abused before turning 18.  The reported rate of child sexual abuse in Utah is 27 percent, which is three times the national average of 9 percent.

Rutherford was sexually abused at age 8 by a girl a few years older than he was, he told the crowd at the banquet.  This year, he centered his high school senior thesis around speaking out about sexual abuse.

Smith experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse in his first 13 years of life — living in a Russian orphanage until age 5 that left him with scars from cigarette burns and knife wounds, then being adopted by two sets of abusive parents in the U.S. before he was adopted the third and final time by 4th District Juvenile Court Judge Rick Smith and his family.

During the next few years, Smith began to heal from his abuse and became more vocal about abuse in the foster care system.

In their comments, winners noted the importance of forgiveness, staying positive through hard times and gaining strength from the people around them.

PCAU is the organization that gave the presentation in Keely Parry’s elementary school and helped her identify the abuse she had experienced.

“It’s been a really long, hard journey,” an emotional Keely Parry said, “and if it weren’t for [PCAU] and my family, I don’t know what I would do.”

Though now-17-year-old Kiera Parry said she still experiences strong emotions stemming from her abuse, the love she feels from her support system helps her move forward.

Rutherford echoed those sentiments and encouraged audience members — including his graduating senior class — to take action.

“You have a chance to move on, to not only change your life but those around you, including others who may have been abused and don’t know what to do,” Rutherford said.  “It’s up to you to speak up and change your environment, and I have a firm knowledge that things do get better once you do.”

The stories from child abuse survivors are inspiring, said PCAU board Chairman Tony Divino, but the agency’s ultimate goal is to “prevent these stories.”  To do that, it offers free half-hour online courses to educate people on how to prevent abuse.

It’s a cause, he said, that will have a lasting impact.

Got 2B Safe – My Rules

.jpg photo of NCMEC Logo
Join with us in donating to this worthy cause

Knowing My Rules for Safety

  1. I CHECK FIRST with my parents, guardians, or other trusted adults before going anywhere, helping anyone, accepting anything, or getting into a car.
  2.  I TAKE A FRIEND with me when going places or playing outside.
  3.  I TELL people “NO” if they try to touch me or hurt me.  It’s OK
    for me to stand up for myself.
  4.  I TELL my trusted adult if anything makes me feel sad, scared,
    or confused.

Sometimes there are people who trick or hurt others.  No one has the right to do that to you.  So use these rules, and remember you are STRONG, are SMART, and have the right to be SAFE.



KidSmartz is a child safety program that educates families about preventing abduction and empowers kids in grades K-5 to practice safer behaviors.  This program offers resources to help parents, caregivers, and teachers protect kids by teaching and practicing the 4 Rules of Personal Safety using tips, printable activities, quizzes, articles, music, videos, and more.

1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)


National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

IL Boy Scout Cares About Others

.jpg photo of Boy Scout Child Abuse Advocate
Gabriel Ballard is helping give Child Abuse a voice through his Eagle Scout project.

Boy Scout helps bring awareness to
Child Abuse

HERRIN, IL  –  Carterville Boy Scout Gabriel Ballard is helping give child abuse a voice through his Eagle Scout project.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Franklin-Williamson Child Advocacy Center wants everyone to help spread the message.

“Abuse gets its power from silence.  When you give it a voice, you stop it,” Leah Brown, executive director of Franklin-Williamson Child Advocacy Center, said.

When Ballard and his Boy Scout Troop visited Franklin-Williamson Child Advocacy Center, the goal was for the Scouts to learn more about the center and what it does, as well as how the Scouts could help the center.

Shortly after the visit, Ballard was trying to decide what to do for his Eagle Scout Project.  His idea was to make Blue Kids, cutouts placed on a lawn, to help raise awareness of child abuse and neglect in Southern Illinois.

“I just thought about it and called to ask Mrs. Brown if we could do it,” Gabriel said.

Brown said Gabriel approached her about a year ago to see what he could do for the center.  She approved.

Blue Kids represent abused and neglected children.  They are designed to bring awareness to the problem of child abuse and neglect.  It grew out of the Blue Ribbon Campaign, which began as one woman’s tribute to her grandson after he died at the hands of his mother’s abusive partner.  The color blue symbolizes bruises on the victims of child abuse.

Gabriel designed the cutouts and developed a template.  His original plan was to cut out the figures with a jig saw, but someone suggested he contact Mike Fleming, vocational teacher and department chair at Carterville High School.

“Mike Fleming at the high school allowed us to use the shop, so we ended up with 120 kids instead of 100,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel delivered the Blue Kids to the advocacy center Thursday afternoon with some help from his parents, Kelli Ballard and Steve Battiste, and friend and fellow Scout, Eric Pfeilschifter.

“What we’re hoping is that businesses will sponsor the children for the month of April,” Brown said.

Businesses and individuals can have a pair of Blue Kids (a boy and girl) in their yards with a sign that reads,” Prevent Child Abuse one child at a time. Child Advocacy Center,” for a $100 tax-deductible donation.  The center will deliver signs April 1 and pick them up May 1.

“I think this is a wonderful message for Gabriel to take on a topic as child abuse at his age,” Brown said.

Franklin-Williamson Child Advocacy Center received referrals for 257 children in 2016.  All of these children are residents of Franklin and Williamson counties.  The center conducted 110 forensic interviews and 42 children and families received free counseling.

For more information, visit the center’s Facebook page, website or call 618-942-3800.

Talking To Your Child – Part 3 Of 3

.jpg photo of Communication between parent and child
Love, Trust, Mutual Respect, and Quality Time make communication with your Child natural and easier.

Information For Parents And Guardians
Of Children

Sexual abuse is a difficult topic to discuss with others, especially children.  Conventional wisdom about what to say to children has changed in recent years and may be counterintuitive.

This section contains the latest information about the preventative discussions to have with your young children and teenagers, as well as what to do if you suspect he or she has been sexually abused.

Talking to Your Child if You Suspect That He or She Is Being Sexually Abused

Parents are surrounded by messages about child sexual abuse.  Talk shows and TV news warn parents about dangers on the Internet, at school, and at home.  However, parents do not get much advice on how to talk to their children if they are concerned that sexual abuse is occurring.

Talk to your child directly.

Pick your time and place carefully!

  • Have this conversation somewhere that your child feels comfortable.
  • DO NOT ask your child about child abuse in front of the person you think may be abusing the child!

Ask if anyone has been touching your child in ways that do not feel okay or that make him or her feel uncomfortable.

Know that sexual abuse can feel good to the victim, so asking your child if someone is hurting him or her may not get the information that you are looking for.

Follow up on whatever made you concerned.  If there was something your child said or did that made you concerned, ask about that.

Ask in a nonjudgmental way, and take care to avoid shaming your child as you ask questions.

  • “I” questions can be very helpful.  Rather than beginning your conversation by saying, “You (the child) did something/said something that made me worry…,” consider starting your inquiry with the word “I.”  For example: “I am concerned because I heard you say that you are not allowed to close the bathroom door.”
  • Make sure that your child knows that he or she is not in trouble, and that you are simply trying to gather more information.

Talk with your child about secrets.

  • Sometimes abusers will tell children that sexual abuse is a secret just between them.  They may ask the child to promise to keep it secret.
  • When you talk to your child, talk about times that it is okay not to keep a secret, even if he or she made a promise.

Build a trusting relationship with your child.

Let your child know that it is okay to come to you if someone is making him or her uncomfortable.

  • Be sure to follow up on any promises you make—if you tell your child that he or she can talk to you, be sure to make time for him or her when he or she does come to you!

All children should know that it’s okay to say “no” to touches that make them uncomfortable or if someone is touching them in ways that make them uncomfortable and that they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.

  • Let your child know that you will not get angry at him or her if he or she tells someone “no.”  Children are often afraid that they will get into trouble if they tell someone not to touch them.

Teach your child that some parts of his or her body are private.

  • Tell your child that if someone tries to touch those private areas or wants to look at them OR if someone tries to show the child his or her own private parts, your child should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.
  • Let your child know that he or she will not be in trouble if he or she tells you about inappropriate touching.
  • Make sure to follow through on this if your child does tell you about inappropriate touching!  Try not to react with anger towards the child.

If you have reason to be concerned about sexual abuse, there may be other signs of sexual abuse as well.  This Website provides a list of warning sign for parents.  Additionally, RAINN’s Web site provides a comprehensive list of signs that indicate child sexual abuse.  As you talk to your child about sexual abuse, remember to focus on creating a safe place for your child.  Even if he or she does not tell you about sexual abuse at the time of the conversation, you are laying a foundation for future conversations.


The U. S. Department of Justice
The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW)

Talking To Your Child – Part 2 Of 3

.jpg photo of communication between Parent and Child
Love, Trust, Mutual Respect, and Quality Time make communication with your Child natural and easier.

Information For Parents And Guardians
Of Children

Sexual abuse is a difficult topic to discuss with others, especially children.  Conventional wisdom about what to say to children has changed in recent years and may be counterintuitive.

This section contains the latest information about the preventative discussions to have with your young children and teenagers, as well as what to do if you suspect he or she has been sexually abused.

Discussing Sexual Abuse With Teens

The discussion about sexuality and sexual abuse should start way before a child begins puberty.  The following tips are provided with the understanding that preventative discussions have occurred with your child years earlier.  If you have not discussed sexual abuse with your child, start today.

When it comes to sexual abuse, protecting teens is complicated. Teenagers seek relationships outside the family for friendship, security, and even advice.  In addition, they may be confused or embarrassed about their own developing sexuality, which makes communication difficult and protecting them nearly impossible.

Be realistic and educate yourself.

Know that most abusers are known by the victim.

Realize teens are learning about sex.  Often their sources may not be the best places to get the facts on sex.  Sources include their friends, pornography, or firsthand experiences.

Learn more so you can help and inform your child.

  • If your teen comes to you with a question and you respond by giving him or her a pamphlet of information, he or she may think you are not open to further conversation.
  • Educational pamphlets can be helpful, many times for you as a parent.  Creating open communication is a better way for teens to learn about sexuality and sexual abuse.

Do not put off discussions.

Before communication lines shut down or something happens, talk to your child.

Open the lines of communication and talk to your child about his or her personal rights and personal boundaries in an age-appropriate manner.

Help teens define their personal rights.

Believe it or not, many teens who get caught up in an inappropriate relationship with an adult (or even someone their own age who is an abuser) blame themselves.  They do not know what their personal rights are or what kind of behavior to expect from adults.  Teach your children that it is okay to say no and that they do not have to do anything they do not want to do.  Often, kids think they are supposed to respect their elders and be nice, so they go along with things that make them uncomfortable because they feel obligated.

Teens should understand that:

  • Their bodies are theirs.
  • Past permission does not obligate them to future activity.
  • They do not have to do anything they do not want to do.
  • They should trust their instincts.
  • It is not okay for them to engage in sexual behavior with adults.
  • It is not okay for adults to take pictures or videos of them in sexual positions or unclothed.
  • Regardless of how they dress or talk, it does not constitute permission.
  • Pornography is not an accurate depiction of real life.
  • They deserve to be spoken to with respect and never feel coerced.
  • Alcohol and drugs may make it hard for them to maintain their boundaries and can cloud their judgment.
  • Touching someone sexually while they are drunk is abuse.
  • Adults should not discuss their sexual fantasies or share pornography with minors.
  • No one has the right to touch them without their permission.

If they are in a relationship, they should also understand that:

  • Both parties respect each other’s personal rights and boundaries in a healthy relationship.
  • They should decline sexual relations with anyone who refuses to use proper protection.
  • Not everyone is having sex.  Many teens wait and that is perfectly okay.

Help them build up their self-esteem.

Often, low self-esteem is a pivotal factor in risky teen behavior. Teens who do not feel good about themselves or who are at odds with their family may turn to other adults for support.  This type of behavior is extremely dangerous; this is exactly what abusers are looking for.  They approach teens and take advantage of their low self-esteem, give gifts like liquor or drugs, further isolate them from the family, and attempt to become their ”friend.”  In addition, teens that do not have money are also often a target and may be bribed with gifts or money.

  • Encourage your teen to get involved in a hobby, sport, work, or art.
  • Teach your teen how to earn money legitimately without having to give up his or her pride or self-worth.
  • Teach your teen how to take care of himself or herself.
  • Empower your teen to be in control of his or her own life rather than feeling like a victim.
  • Give your teen responsibility.
  • Communicate how much you value his or her independence, accomplishments, and ability to be responsible, while letting him or her know you are supportive and available.

Need help?  Get help.

  • Know that it is never too late to seek help.
  • Talk to school administrators, counselors, teachers, and community outreach program representatives for assistance.
  • Affirm to yourself that abuse is something that needs to be stopped, not ignored.
  • Report abuse as soon as possible.  Silence protects the abuser and shows the child that abuse is acceptable and may convey that it is his or her fault.
  • Do not blame the child for the abuse.
  • Seek counseling for abused children to help alleviate confusion, anger, and possible self-esteem issues.
  • Seek counseling for you to learn how to get through the hurt and anger, and find ways to help your child and family connections heal.


The U. S. Department of Justice
The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW)