MEDIA RELEASE EMBARGOED: MIDNIGHT SUNDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 2018
BRAVEHEARTS LAUNCHES FREE “PERSONAL SAFETY PARENTS’ GUIDE”
AS PART OF NATIONAL CHILD PROTECTION WEEK
Download the FREE Personal Safety Parents’ Guide https://bravehearts.org.au/personalsafety
National White Balloon Day is on Friday 7 September 2018 is part of National Child Protection Week (2-8 September)
For National Child Protection Week, Australia’s leading child protection advocate Bravehearts, today launched their FREE Personal Safety Parents’ Guide to help Australian parents better protect their children.
The Guide can be downloaded from: https://bravehearts.org.au/personalsafety
Every 90 minutes a child is substantiated as having been sexually assaulted in Australia - that’s 1 in 5 children who are sexually harmed in some way before their 18th Birthday accounting for 58,000 children in all corners of Australia, every year.
To help empower parents to protect their children from sexual harm Bravehearts’ FREE Personal Safety Parents’ Guide gives parents and carers insight into the myths and facts about child sexual assault and valuable guidance on personal safety education for their children.
The Guide provides tips for keeping children of all ages safe online and simple step-by-step activities for teaching children personal safety, based on Bravehearts’ acclaimed Ditto Keep Safe Adventure program that has helped to educate almost 1 Million Australian children in personal safety since 2006.
Bravehearts’ Guide, developed by their education and research experts, gives parents and carers FREE access to easy-to-follow information for teaching children simple personal safety strategies.
These strategies can help kids build confidence and resilience to protect themselves in a variety of situations across the span of their young lives, including online.
Hetty Johnston AM, Founder and Executive Chair of Bravehearts said, “There is nothing more important than protecting our children and now every parent and carer can ensure they are better informed on the steps they need to take to help protect their children from harm.
“All Australians need to understand that child sexual assault is a crime that can potentially affect any family regardless of race, religion, gender and economic status – it doesn’t discriminate.
“One of the most important things we can do is to empower our children to identify when something doesn’t feel right, and to talk to and tell a trusted adult without fear of consequences.
“The Guide provides parents with tips on how to teach children simple strategies that, through practice, will become second nature and help them build their confidence and resilience empowering them with skills and knowledge to reduce their vulnerability to harmful situations and individuals.
“As part of National Child Protection Week we’re urging every parent and carer to ensure they download Bravehearts’ FREE Guide so they can teach their children about personal and online safety.
“Every Australian child has the right to feel safe and by helping parents and carers to empower their children with personal safety skills; together we can help prevent child sexual assault to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child,” said Ms Johnston.
Bravehearts is also inviting community support for National White Balloon Day on Friday 7 September by making a donation to help Bravehearts break the silence surrounding child sexual assault. whiteballoonday.com.au
Bravehearts is Australia’s leader in child protection offering specialised training services for government organisations, educators in schools and childcare centres, education and support services for children and their families, and free child safe information resources can be downloaded from our website www.bravehearts.org.au.
For help or support people can call Bravehearts’ toll free Support Line on 1800 272 831 Monday to Friday between 8:30am to 4:30pm (AEST) or visit our website www.bravehearts.org.au.
For interview requests with Hetty Johnston AM and adult survivors of child sexual assault contact Insight Communications on: 02 9518 4744
Clare Collins - M: 0414 821 957 - E: [email protected]
Alice Collins - M: 0414 686 091 E: [email protected]
'As a long term supporter of Bravehearts, can I ask your support for White Balloon Day?
An individuals’ safety underpins their entire quality of life and is a right not an option. There is still much to do in that regard and Bravehearts are at the forefront. They need assistance to continue their important and valuable work.'
Bob Atkinson AO APM
Bravehearts Ambassador & Former Commissioner for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
White Balloon Day is on Friday 7 September during National Child Protection Week 2-8 September 2018
Indicators of Child Sexual Assault for Parents & Teachers
As children often lack the words to describe sexual assault, they find it exceptionally difficult to disclose. The more severe the degree of harm, the less likely it is that the child/young person will disclose. The fear of a negative reaction and possible punishment can also prevent children from speaking out.
Children may try to subtly open the conversation by asking “Do you like so and so?… I don’t” or “I’ve got a secret”. However, there are a number of physical and behavioural symptoms that indicate a child or young person may have been harmed. While physical and behavioural symptoms should be viewed as a sign that something may be worrying the child, it should NOT be automatically assumed that harm is occurring.
By talking to the child, this may reveal something quite innocent so be sure to speak with the child before making accusations.
What Parents & Adults Should Look For
Parents, teachers, carers, child protection workers, counsellors etc., all need to know the symptoms of child sexual assault so if there are significant changes in behaviour, increased fears, or physical symptoms, they can talk to the child to discuss what they might be feeling.
Common Indicators in Children
Common Indicators in Offenders
Bravehearts and White Balloon Day – Educate, Empower, Protect Our Kids!
Bravehearts is Australia’s leading voice for child protection and has been dedicated to protecting Australian children for 22 years. White Balloon Day is Australia’s largest annual national campaign to raise awareness of and funds for, the prevention of child sexual assault.
All Australians are invited to support the campaign by registering at whiteballoonday.com.au
PLEASE NOTE: Bravehearts is aware that balloons, when released outside and not disposed of accordingly, are damaging to the environment. This is why Bravehearts DOES NOT endorse the release or use of balloons out of doors in any way as part of our annual White Balloon Day campaign.
White Balloon Day 2018 – How the community can get involved
- Register to hold a White Balloon Day awareness or fundraising event or activity in your workplace, school, community group, sporting club, council or home.
- Schools and childcare centres - take part in the White Balloon Day CHALK ART PROJECT to win free personal safety teaching resources for your school or centre.
- Download free resources from the website whiteballoonday.com.au to help spread the word about White Balloon Day and child protection week.
- Donate or fundraise online to help prevent child sexual assault and protect Australian children – whiteballoonday.com.au
Australian Child Sexual Assault Statistics
- Every 90 minutes an Australian child is sexually assaulted.
- 58,000 Australian children are sexually assaulted in Australia each year.
- One in five Australian children will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday.
- The majority of child sexual assault crimes are perpetrated by persons known to the child.
- A sample of Australian women showed that 45% reported experiencing at least one unwanted sexual incident before 16 years of age by family members (31%), friends (54%) or strangers (14%).
- Fewer than 28% of victims of child sexual assault disclose to authorities. Of this, only 17% of offences reported to police, result in convictions.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
Bravehearts’ specialised services address the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. White Balloon Day supports The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 and is endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments.
The outcomes of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have given adult survivors hope and in some cases, redress. With data from NSW Police showing 4% of all recent reported allegations were associated with an institution, this indicates that assaults in institutional environments are declining.
With one Australian child sexually assaulted every 90 minutes, increasing awareness and education of this crime can increase reports of child sexual assault by persons known to the child and empower them with strategies and confidence to find their voice to say NO to child sexual assault and disclose to someone they know they can trust.
Among the recommendations, the Royal Commission called for support from governments at the national, state and territory levels, local governments, should designate child safety officer positions from existing staff profiles to carry out the following functions:
- Developing child safe messages in local government venues, grounds and facilities;
- Assisting local institutions to access online child safe resources;
- Providing child safety information and support to local institutions on a needs basis; and,
- Supporting local institutions to work collaboratively with key services to ensure child safe approaches are culturally safe, disability aware and appropriate for children from diverse backgrounds.
The Effects of Child Sexual Assault on Individuals and the Community
The Effects on Child Victims
More than 80% of children who experienced child sexual assault are reported to have some post-traumatic stress symptoms. Disclosure and reporting of the crime of child sexual assault can lead to preventing further harm and potentially; the prosecution of perpetrators while improving long-term outcomes for victims through counselling and support. However, the traumatic impact on victims can cause emotional distress and a range of cognitive distortions in childhood, including feelings of hopelessness, impaired trust and self-blame leading to the following issues:
- Behaviour problems, poor self-esteem, and sexualised behaviours;
- Development of insecure attachment patterns;
- Failure to develop brain capacities necessary for modulating emotions;
- Inability to discriminate among and label affective states;
- Detachment from awareness of emotions and self;
- Under-controlled and over-controlled behaviour patterns;
- Lower grades and poorer academic achievement;
- A defective, helpless, deficient sense of self; and,
- Greater internalising and externalising behaviour problems.
The Effects on Adult Survivors
The impact of the crime of child sexual assault can last a lifetime with adults suffering from a number of behavioural and metal health conditions including:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety, reduced self-esteem, drug and alcohol dependence, heavy and hazardous drinking, illicit drug and substance abuse, drug overdose, anti-social and harmful behaviour; and increased violence and hostility among male victims.
- There is an increased likelihood of being arrested in adolescence by as much as 59%.
- They are 49 times more likely to die from accidental overdose than other Australians.
- Suicide is significantly higher (18 times higher) among adult victims of child sexual assault compared to other Australians. Women victims are 40 times more likely to take their own life.
The Fiscal Effects on the Australian Economic & Community
According to studies (2007), the future financial cost to Australia over the lifetime of abused, neglected and sexually assaulted children is estimated to be approx. between $13.7 ($105k per child) and $38.7 billion ($297k per child).
Adult Responses to the Subject of Child Sexual Assault
In 2009, the Australian Childhood Foundation published outcomes from their third survey on the national community attitude about child sexual assault and child protection. Key findings included:
- 1 in 3 Australians would not believe children if they disclosed they were being assaulted.
- Greater than 1 in 4 Australians do not feel confident enough to recognise the signs of child abuse, neglect and child sexual assault.
- 1 in 5 lacked the confidence to know what to do if they suspected that a child was being harmed.
- Unless they come face to face with the issue, collectively Australians rate petrol prices, public transport and roads as issues of greater concern than child abuse and sexual assault.
- 90% of adults surveyed believed that the community needs to be better informed about the problem of child abuse and sexual assault in Australia.
- 86% of Australian believed that Commonwealth and State Governments should invest more money in protecting children from abuse, neglect and sexual assault.