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Help keep our kids safe from sexual abuse

In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, this letter addresses some safety tips for parents.

Statistically, one in four girls and one in six boys will become a victim of sexual assault before the age of 18. Sexual abuse is defined as any unwanted sexual contact.

It is important for parents and children to know safety tips for keeping safe from sexual abuse. While children are taught that they shouldn't talk to strangers, most often with sexual abuse, the abuser is someone the victim knows. 90 to 95 percent of sexual abusers are known to their victim because they build a relationship before sexual abuse occurs.

The following are four steps to follow to help children keep safe:

•Step one: minimize the opportunity by limiting time alone with adults who are unfamiliar; have good communication with parents and keep children in situations where there are multiple adults supervising.

•Step two: stay alert by paying attention to other people's behaviors, such as someone trying to be alone with your children, giving them presents or money and other inappropriate behavior.

•Step three: make a plan if something occurs, such as calling the police, seeking support or medical attention.

•Step four: trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, it's probably not.

Lower Valley Crisis and Support Services will be hosting an informational fair as part of our community awareness. The event will be on Friday, April 26, from 1 to 5 p.m. and is free and open to the public. There will be a variety of service providers from private, public, for-profit and non-profit entities to share valuable resources. Please contact Lower Valley Crisis & Support Services at 509-837-6689 for more information.

/s/ Leticia Garcia, Lower Valley Crisis & Support Services

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