Together We Can Prevent the Sexual Abuse of Children
Conversations in Prevention
Dear Prevention Community,

As I sat down to write this letter, I realized that while we’ve stayed in regular communication with all of you over the last few months, our last official e-news was “pre-COVID.” A week after the February e-news went out, I brought some hand sanitizer into the office. While I don’t usually consider myself a “germaphobe,” it seemed better to be safe than sorry, as the news of corona virus began to take over. Little did I know then how much this would all impact us, and forever change us.  

Just a few short weeks later, we moved our whole operation, including our Helpline, out of the office and into our own homes. And throughout this sometimes lonely, scary and unknown situation, we continued to be here and answer the phones, chats and emails. And when I say we,  I really mean our amazing Helpline consultants. They have worked from their homes throughout quarantines and lock downs, responding to inquiries of every type – because safety planning for prevention can’t take a break. 

I personally am so grateful for the dedication of our Helpline counselors. It really wasn’t a question for them when we realized that we could not safely continue to work in our office, and without a pause, they continued to talk to people, who were more isolated than ever, about sexual abuse – out of their homes. It’s a lot to ask people to take their job home with them in this way – to talk about children’s sexual safety continuously, and to be there for worried and scared people – during worrisome and scary times. This is what heroes do. Our Helpline counselors are heroes.

Early in this pandemic, we defined two Calls to Action:
  1. Support parents and caregivers to keep prevention planning in the forefront, even as they dealt with the most basic of concerns, by providing relevant (COVID-specific) safety planning tools.
  2. Address the increased risk of adults in social and often physical isolation, and who are at increased risk of illegal (online) behaviors – and are just struggling more than ever with unwanted sexual attraction for minors.

To address our first Call to Action, we continued to produce new tools to help everyone think about children’s sexual safety in their lives. We expanded our communications to reach more people with new tools to bring increased awareness and support to families “stuck at home” to increase their skills to better incorporate safety planning during quarantine. You can see a collection of the new tools and other resources specific to COVID here .

For our second Call to Action, we prepared to reach out to more individuals who might be struggling with sexual interests and/or behaviors that could become abusive as they also struggled with isolation and limited support. Accelerating our original time schedule, we developed new online content and campaigns to bring more awareness to the availability of help.

While we are still compiling the data from both our website and Helpline, our preliminary results show that more people are reaching out for help for themselves. Last year, from April through June, 9.5% of our Helpline audience were people calling about themselves. This year, during the same time period, that number increased to 19%. We’ve also seen large increases of views on the self-help pages of the website. For example, our advice column, “ Help me with my sexual thoughts about my step-daughter ,” had fewer than 400 views during March through May in 2019, and increased to nearly 3000 views during those same months in 2020. 

As we move forward, we continue to find new ways to adapt to the remote-focused environment. We’re pleased to announce our Circles of Safety training for youth-serving organizations will be available in a new virtual classroom series . We are developing new tip sheets and online resources  to promote awareness and prepare for difficult conversations. And amidst everything else, we are working to strengthen our commitment  to better understand and represent what it means to really look at the intersectionality of systemic racism with violence. 

Thank you for remaining an important part of the prevention community. More than ever, we need each other. 

Take care and be well,

Jenny Coleman
Director, Stop It Now!
Quote of the Month
”I am really struggling today and this is very helpful… I’ve always tried to have these types of conversations with my kids but I didn’t even really have the right words, so this gives me exact things to say… Thank you for your organization and all you do.”
Spotlight: Elaine's Story of Courage
The story of Elaine Spangler  is an important one to share. Elaine reached out initially to Stop It Now! a few years ago as she was dealing with the discovery and subsequent conviction of her husband‘s sexual abuse of teenage boys. About a year ago, after Elaine had journeyed a very difficult road, she felt that one of the ways to make sense of all that happened was to become an advocate for prevention. For her, this meant helping people with sexual interests that could lead to illegal and harmful behaviors impacting children find help before a child was abused. 

After many conversations and a lot of thought, Elaine chose to fund a special project to enhance the Stop It Now! Helpline’s response to these folks in particular, increasing both engagement and awareness of the Helpline service. The goal of the project is to help people concerned about their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors reach out for live support – to reduce the barriers that can prevent help-seeking behaviors. 

With Elaine’s support, we’ve been able to offer follow up support to these particular Helpline users, and are prepared to further match them with a mentor – a person we’ve trained – who is working with a specialized therapist on their own sexual abusive past and who was incarcerated for a sexual offense. The objective is to help support Helpline callers through a monitored conversation with someone who has shared some of their same feelings and concerns, committed a crime – AND has demonstrated a healthy and real commitment to helping others not cross the same lines and to get help. We also, again with Elaine’s support, are able to revise our guidebook Let’s Talk and we’re excited to share that soon.

To help bring even more awareness to the Helpline, we’ve also begun ad campaigns on a well-known porn site that asks people to reach out to our website and Helpline if they have concerns about the type of pornography they are viewing. While we are just completing the pilot of this campaign, in under three weeks, we had over 2000 clicks from the ads onto our website. While we’re still gathering impressions, it is safe to say that we are on the right path in bringing this resource to more people – thanks to Elaine. 

And her contribution to Stop It Now! doesn’t end there! In June, as a part of our regular quarterly Helpline-inspired webinar series, Elaine joined us to talk about her story, along with guest expert Candice Christiansen who spoke about the experience and needs of non-offending partners. We invite you to watch the videos below, of both a clip from the webinar as well as a follow-up interview with Elaine.
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Conversations to Share
Building Protective Factors

Child sexual abuse prevention is possible when we strengthen protective factors in families and communities. Protective factors are the strengths and resources that help navigate and even survive life's stresses. To learn more about what families and professionals can do to build up these protective factors, check out Everyone Experiences Stress, Protective Factors Keep Families Strong from Child Welfare Information Gateway . These resources help the families learn more about how to stay strong during challenging and tough times.
Calling for an end to child sexual exploitation

Every year, the U.S. State Department compiles a global Trafficking in Persons report . The 2020 report emphasizes trends ECPAT International has monitored since the launch of the Global Study on the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism . This year’s Trafficking in Persons report is calling upon governments to step up and take action to bring an end to extraterritorial child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Conversations We're Having
Registration is open!
Join us this fall for our new Virtual Classroom Series - Circles of Safety: Awareness to Action and a Training of Trainers for youth-serving organizations.
Prevention Coalition Members Stand for Social Justice
Stop It Now! is proud to be a member of The National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation . A number of Prevention Coalition members have issued statements about their commitment to social justice and calls to action to address racial equality and system responses following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others. Please read and share their statements.
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