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Marci DiamondPosted by Marci Diamond, Director of the DPH Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services Unit.

Sexual violence is everyone’s issue: in fact, a recent national study found that one in three women and one in five men in Massachusetts have experienced sexual violence, typically starting at a young age.

The 2013 National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) campaign focuses on healthy sexuality and its connection to child sexual abuse prevention. This April, join the conversation. Start talking about healthy childhood development to prevent child sexual abuse.

The upcoming SAAM campaign provides tools and information on healthy childhood sexual development that adults can use. By learning about the characteristics of healthy sexuality, adults can better identify risks, support healthy boundaries and challenge negative messages. These tools support parents, community members and organizations as they work to prevent child sexual abuse

As Gov. Patrick put it: "Massachusetts has a plan…to keep children from developing problem sexual behaviors, help parents and educators teach children that sexual respect is expected, and assist adults in changing the climates in our diverse communities and institutions so that healthy relationships between all people can be the state norm…not only to improve our response to incidents…but also toward shaping a safer, healthier future".

We invite you to join the dialogue throughout the year. You can find lots of resources at NSVRC  and at your local DPH-supported Rape Crisis Center  or Child Advocacy Center. It may be challenging to start, but we CAN talk about –and practice – appropriate boundaries, sexual respect, and healthy, nurturing, equitable relationships.  By starting the conversation early and often, we can all help to build safe, healthy relationships and communities.


Here at DPH we are observing SAAM in several ways, including a program on April 11 at 12 noon in the DPH Public Health Council Room at 250 Washington Street, Boston. Several of our non-governmental partners will share their efforts to fulfill the vision for the safer, healthier future for all described by Gov. Patrick. Speakers include Meg Stone of IMPACT:Ability, Amy Cote of PPLM, and Shakira Cruz of The Network/LaRed. Room capacity is limited, so please RSVP to Courtney.kaczmarsky@state.ma.us by April 8 if you plan to attend.

Healthy Childhood Sexual Development Resources
An overview on healthy childhood sexual development

This tool provides an overview of healthy childhood sexual development by exploring age-appropriate behaviors and skills and information on supporting healthy development. 

This resource for community members focuses on how all adults in a community can support child sexual abuse prevention efforts and promote healthier environments for children. 

This resource for parents explores how parents can better understand healthy childhood development, create safe environments and support the children in their lives.

Exercise: Talking to your child
This exercise focuses on increasing a parent’s comfort and knowledge when talking to their child about sex. 

Resource for advocates, educators and preventionists  
This tool equips leaders and partners in sexual violence prevention to understand healthy child sexual development and engage adults in promoting healthy development and skills. 

Additional resources: 
The NSVRC Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Information Packet provides a comprehensive overview, resources and research to support prevention efforts. 

Resources from SAAM 2012 campaign provide an overview of healthy sexuality as sexual violence prevention. Use these tools to learn more about healthy sexuality and as a foundation to a healthy childhood sexual development campaign. 

Training opportunities highlighted in the state plan: Early Childhood Materials from a local MA provider and Understanding Children's Sexual Behaviors- From Natural and Healthy to Disturbed online training.

 

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health communication writer and editor

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