World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Violence

Earlier this month, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution establishing November 18 as a day to spotlight children’s sexual exploitation and abuse. The resolution proclaims that November 18 is dedicated as World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Violence every year.

This calls on the 193 UN member nations, international organizations, world leaders, civil society, non-governmental groups, academic institutions, and private businesses to commemorate the day “in a manner that each considers most appropriate.”

In honor of the United Nations’ declaration and as part of our Mission at The Knoble to protect the vulnerable, we are highlighting the threads of connection between child sexual abuse (CSA) and exploitation. There is no person more vulnerable than a child.

One in ten children will experience a form of CSA before age 18. (Source: Darkness to Light) The majority of abuse occurs by someone the child knows in 91 percent of cases. CSA is a risk factor that makes youth more susceptible to exploitation and human trafficking. By and large, most people who have been trafficked have experienced a form of sexual abuse.

When you look at human trafficking research, specifically at the indicators in children, one of the biggest predictors

of trafficking is a history of childhood sexual abuse. That doesn’t mean that every child who is sexually abused will be trafficked or exploited.”

— Heidi Olson, MSN, RN, CPN, SANE-P

“Nearly every victim of s*x trafficking, children and adults alike, has a history of childhood sexual abuse and trauma. If we want to protect children in our society from being targeted by traffickers, then we need to be diligent in protecting them from sexual predators as well,” said Olson.

In addition to being a sexual assault nurse examiner, Heidi is the founder of Paradigm Shift Training and Consulting LLC, which equips healthcare workers with skills to be able to identify and treat victims of trafficking and exploitation. In 2019, Heidi implemented an evidence-based screening process in a hospital emergency department, which has resulted in hundreds of vulnerable children being identified as victims of exploitation. Heidi has testified in favor of bills that have been passed into law, and most recently, she testified at a briefing in Washington, DC, about protecting children online.

Societal costs

The cost of trauma is immense, causing a myriad of negative mental and physical health consequences for the abused. These economic costs are secondary to the emotional damage caused by the abusers, groomers, pimps, and s*x buyers. The lifetime economic burden of CSA is approximately $9.3 billion (The Economic Burden of Child Sexual Abuse in the US, 2018). According to a study by the Child Alliance Fund (2014), the global economic impacts and costs resulting from the consequences of physical, psychological, and sexual violence against children can be as high as $7 trillion.

The profits of human trafficking are estimated to be $150 billion annually. It is the fastest-growing illegal enterprise worldwide. According to Jim Cole, Supervisory Special Agent, US Department of Homeland Security, the US annually spends an estimated $200 million to combat exploitation and s*x trafficking.

When we can put proverbial guardrails in place to prevent people from being tricked into trusting a bad actor, we are placing a massive puzzle piece onto the solving board of these crimes against children.

Prevention education is vital. Teach your kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews to:

  • Always trust their intuition about a person or situation
  • Never let their polite factor override their fear factor
  • Know what a safe touch is vs. an unsafe touch
  • Be aware that adults do not ask kids to keep unsafe secrets
  • Identify at least three trusted adults they can talk to about anything bothering them
  • Prioritize digital safety and delay the introduction to smartphones and social media as long as possible

Preventing vulnerability such as CSA lessens the pool that traffickers and exploiters draw from. Vulnerable kids are profitable, and exploiters intentionally prey on these vulnerabilities. A potential trafficker wants nothing to do with a confident kid. Therein lies opportunities to create more confident, thriving kids.

Protection is prevention. Join the fight.

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