Stopping Child Sexual Abuse 

Stopping Child Sexual Abuse

August 26, 2003

BAY AREA (KRON 4)--It's often impossible to see when a child has been sexually molested. There may be no obvious physical signs, but the emotional damage can be enormous.

Susan da Silva, the mother of a child abuse victim says, "My daughter, when she was 18, killed herself. The abuse that she suffered was very severe, and it happened from when she was 5 until she was 7, and she never recovered from that. I want to stop that from happening to other children."

Susan da Silva has become a volunteer with the Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute.

Nora Harlow, child abuse expert describes the organization: "The focus of our organization is to save as many children as we can as fast as we can."

Using the book "Stop Child Molestation," the organization is reaching out to parents, teachers, psychotherapists, churches, and community groups. By spotting warning signs early, it is possible to stop people before they begin abusing children.

Whitney Gabriel, child abuse expert says, "We know that the disorder starts when they are young, when they are teenagers, and sometimes even younger."

The warning signs include sexually acting out at home or in school, developing an unhealthy sexual interest in younger children, displaying sexually provocatve behavior, and using sexual language beyond their age group.

Because it is hard to know if this is just natural curiosity and experimentation or something more serious, these experts say that parents who are worried should consult a sex-specific specialist. A sex-specific specialist is someone who is trained in diagnosing and treating the problem.

Expert Whitney Gabriel says, "In cases where someone does have a problem, there is medication and treatment therapy that is very effective. In fact, it's 88% effective."

The key is awareness of the problem, its warning signs, and the fact that something can be done about it are all equally important in the healing process.

Susan da Silva says, "It's really really tough because there's not a lot [sic], you feel pretty helpless[sic], that's why I'm excited by the idea that we can help children not only after the fact [sic], but before it too by preventing it from happening.

She says that it's too late for her daughter, but not too late to save others from going through what she did.

(Copyright 2003, KRON 4. All rights reserved.)