Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020
During the week of October 26-30, the Tampa YMCA is participating in the Five Days of Action to raise awareness and inspire everyone to take action to protect children from sexual abuse.
The statistics are terrifying. One in 10 children in the U.S. will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Sadly, 90 percent of sexual abuse victims know their abuser and 60 percent of victims never tell anyone. Studies show kids who experience adverse childhood experiences, like sexual abuse, are more likely to adopt risky behaviors like smoking and drug use, develop chronic health conditions such as depression and heart disease, underperform academically and die early.
The Tampa Y encourages all community members and organizations to play a vital role in making Tampa Bay a safer place for children, especially during this ever-changing environment. As our community continues to press pause and participate in social distancing, we know protecting kids looks different this year. Not only is our community dealing with a pandemic that is separating kids in need from the safe adults in their lives, but there are spikes in domestic violence, cries for social justice and more concerns about the mental health of youth and adults.
When adults know how abuse happens, see the warning signs and respond quickly to prevent abuse, they foster a culture of child abuse prevention. Together, we can bring awareness to the issue of child sexual abuse in our community and have important conversations around how we can all work together to prevent it from happening.
While we are placing a special emphasis on the topic this month, the protection of youth from abuse is the Y's top priority every single day. We are proud to have many systems in place to ensure the safety and welfare of all children in our care. To start, the Tampa Y is a registered Hillsborough County Safe Place for Kids. All members and guests at our centers are put through RAPTOR screening to safeguard against sexual predators. This is the same system used with our local public school system. In addition, all staff members receive special mandatory training to recognize and prevent child abuse from occurring. Prior to hire, youth development staff must pass a National Level 2 Background Check, which includes identity verification and finger printing. In addition, our leadership staff conducts reference checks on all individuals we intend to offer job positions.
The Tampa Y is fully committed to doing our part to keep kids protected from abuse, providing safe, enriching environments where children can learn, grow and thrive. With support from the YMCA Guardians for Child Protection, YMCA of the USA, Darkness to Light, the Redwoods Group Foundation and Praesidium, we invite you to learn how you can help by visiting www.fivedaysofaction.org.
Together, we can stand up to demand that children are protected and encourage adults to make it happen in our community. It takes all of us.
President & CEO