Toma: Talk to your kids

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Dylan Toma — a prevention educator with the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center — recently spoke with the Spalding Collaborative.

The center — with locations in Jonesboro, Hampton, and Newnan, serves a 10-county area including Spalding — and “provides a collaborative, coordinated community response in an effort to reduce the incidence of child maltreatment and sexual violence through prevention, intervention, and education,” according to its mission statement.

Southern Crescent Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center services include a 24-hour crisis line at 770-477-2177, forensic medical evaluations, forensic interviews,

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victim advocacy, counseling and education and outreach. They have a comprehensive referral network with community resources for those in need of assistance.

Toma provided some statistics on abuse including that 93 percent of all victims are abused by someone they know. One in seven girls has been sexually abused before age 18, one in six women have be victims of rape or attempted rape; one in 25 boys has sexually abused before age 18; and 1 in 33 men have be victim of rape or attempted rape.

“It can happen to anyone,” he said. And said the statistics came from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, www.rainn.org, which has a 24-hour hotline 800-656-4637 and live chat.

In Spalding County, he said, for 2017, there were 94 child sexual assaults, and the incidents of sexual abuse of children have increased over the years.

Toma encouraged parents to talk with their children about this. “Start when kids are young. Teach them their body parts; tell them there are private areas. Talk to them about secrets and that it’s OK to share.”

He told parents to “continue to engage them as teens in safety conversations. Know you child, he said, be involved in your child’s life. Make yourself available, encourage children to speak up. It’s extremely important.”

If you suspect harm, he said, “recognize the signs, which are not the same for every child. Bedwetting is not always a sign of abuse.”

Some other signs include behavior changes, like shrinking away from contact; a normally talkative child being quiet; or a child using language above their age level. Ask where they heard that language.”

When talking to them, he said, “let them know it’s OK, don’t use a stern tone. Reassure them they are not in trouble, that you will listen and help in any way you can.”

When reporting, he said, if the child is in immediate danger, call 911. If not, call DFACS or police. He noted it is up to those agencies to investigate and take action.

Southern Crescent Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center services include a 24-hour crisis line at 770-477-2177, forensic medical evaluations, forensic interviews, victim advocacy, counseling and education and outreach. They have a comprehensive referral network with community resources for those in need of assistance.

RESOURCES

Southern Crescent Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center, www.scsac.org, 24-hour crisis line 770-477-2177

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, www.rainn.org, 24-hour hotline 800-656-4637

Jan 12
BY RAY LIIGHTNER
STAFF WRITER
RAY@GRIFFINDAILYNEWS.COM