Child sexual abuse is a taboo topic for many people, but Little Warriors is working hard to change the face of this crime.
“Red Deer really isn’t oriented with Little Warriors much yet because there hasn’t been somebody in the community itself,” said facilitator Marylou Speelman, who is now Red Deer’s Little Warrior’s representative.
Speelman said a lot of what Little Warriors works on is teaching children what is and isn’t acceptable for children, and teaching adults how to be aware of scenarios in which they suspect a child is being sexually abused.
“The aim is to try to teach adults what to do if a child comes to them to talk about what’s happened, and how to talk to the child without deterring them from wanting to talk about it,” said Speelman.
Little Warriors runs workshops throughout the year for adults to attend that helps teach how to deal with situations in which a child presents signs of potentially being sexually abused. The workshops, said Speelman, are designed for all adults who have any interaction with children.
A lot of what Little Warriors wants to teach is a basic awareness about child sexual abuse, including ways to keep your own children safe whether that be on the Internet or just knowledge of what is and isn’t appropriate.
“It’s important for all children to know what is and isn’t appropriate touching and where they should and shouldn’t be touched. One thing we use is the bathing suit area, if a bathing suit covers it, nobody should touch it.”
Little Warriors was started in Edmonton and is based off of a United States version.
“What we do is try to get it out into the public. The idea behind Little Warriors is prevention and trying to stop child sexual abuse before it happens,” said Speelman.
Some of the statistics surrounding child sexual abuse are frightening, she said.
“One in three girls and one in six boys will have an unwanted sexual encounter and mostly it happens before the age of 18.”
Speelman also added that 95% of child sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator.
She said the public should become more educated on the topic and also become more aware, because the cost is not just to the individual going through the abuse but also to society. “It’s a big issue for sure and it falls under child abuse. Child sexual abuse goes through billions of dollars spent just on the after effects on the victims.”
Every person has the responsibility to watch out for the children, who are the future generations who will have a say in the world. “If we are all watching and we choose to step in and say something if we think there’s something going on, that’s the way it should be.
“I don’t think sexual abuse is talked about very much, but I think people need to start talking about it and realize it is happening so that they know there are ways it can be prevented.”
For more information, visit www.littlewarriors.ca.