More than 42 million Americans are survivors of sexual violence in childhood. They deserve and demand prevention, healing, justice and action.
“I did not know as a young athlete how vulnerable I was to abuse…the institutions which I had trusted with my safety wouldn't believe us. More needs to be done,” said Grace French, President and Founder of The Army of Survivors (TAOS).
Members of the Keep Kids Safe Movement shared powerful testimony during a roundtable with U.S. Representatives of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence. The roundtable kicked off the first Keep Kids Safe Capitol Hill Day of Action on April 26, 2023 in Washington, D.C. During the day, survivor advocates and allied leaders convened to call on the White House and Members of Congress to ensure access to prevention, healing, and justice and draw attention to the silent scourge of sexual violence against children and adolescents in the U.S. and globally.
Child sexual abuse in the U.S. is a significant but preventable public health problem. This is a public health crisis requiring an urgent systemic response:
Although staggering, these statistics fail to reflect the full scope of this public health crisis: only 12% of child sexual abuse is reported to authorities each year and studies suggest that as many as 33% of survivors never disclose their abuse.
The patchwork system of policies, laws, and programs that fails to protect children requires immediate consideration. Support and bold action at the highest levels of government is necessary to deliver prevention, healing, and justice solutions at full scale in the U.S. and globally.
One billion children have experienced physical, sexual, and emotional violence, equivalent to 1 in 3 children globally. For over a decade, Together for Girls, a member of the Keep Kids Safe Movement, has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other U.S. government and U.N. entities, to implement Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS) in countries throughout Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America. These surveys are the single largest data source for violence against children globally. In countries where the U.S. has supported implementation of a VACS, estimates reveal that between 3% - 25% of adolescent girls and <1% - 13% of adolescent boys have experienced sexual violence in the past 12 months.
In contrast, there are no exact estimates of the percentages of children and adolescents in the U.S. who experience some form of sexual violence. Together for Girls, in partnership with the CDC and others, is working to change that. In order to inform effective solutions for prevention and response, we must first understand the full scope of the problem. This year, the City of Baltimore Department of Health will partner with the CDC to implement the first VACS in the U.S., bringing crucial learning from our global work home.
By making smart federal policy and funding investments that center the voices, experiences, and leadership of survivors and advocates, we can implement practical and cost-effective programs that can break the cycle of violence in the U.S. and abroad.
Joining forces to advocate for change and build momentum together, survivor advocates and allies of Keep Kids Safe and the Brave Movement – Keep Kids Safe’s global sister movement of adult survivors of childhood sexual violence – engaged with the White House Gender Policy Council to introduce the National Blueprint to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents. The Blueprint, created by Keep Kids Safe, provides a survivor- and trauma-informed comprehensive roadmap for policymakers. Survivor advocates and leaders also organized a rally in support of positive change and lawmaker action held in front of the White House. In addition, members of the Keep Kids Safe Movement attended numerous meetings with Members of Congress and their staff in the U.S. House and Senate, on both sides of the aisle. They discussed efforts to ensure access to prevention, healing, and justice, including funding for the VACS to inform solutions.
A roundtable discussion hosted by the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence in the U.S. House of Representatives provided an opportunity for in depth conversation between survivors of childhood sexual violence, allied leaders of the Keep Kids Safe Movement, and Representatives. The group discussed solutions to end the cycle of childhood sexual violence as well as the work of the Bipartisan Task Force Co-Chairs Dave Joyce (OH-14) and Ann Kuster (NH-02) who introduced a resolution recognizing April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month (H.Res. 307).
The resolution notes the collective responsibility of elected representatives and leaders in our communities to be proactive in support of evidence-based approaches to prevent child abuse and the long-lasting and pervasive consequences of violence. Statements such as these are key to building political will and are catalysts for positive policy change to end sexual violence against children and adolescents.
Read the White House blog, written in recognition of Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Month (SAAM) and Child Abuse Prevention Month, which highlights the Gender Policy Council's meeting with the Keep Kids Safe coalition.
We cannot wait any longer for systemic change to address this crisis. More than 42 million estimated American survivors of child sexual abuse and child sexual violence deserve and demand prevention, healing, justice and action.
Whether you are a survivor or an ally, join the movement to end sexual violence against children and demand accountability from our leaders by endorsing the historic U.S. National Blueprint to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents. The time to take action and keep kids safe is now.