Reflections on the Past Twenty Years
A Letter from Deborah Donovan Rice, Executive Director
For twenty years, Stop It Now! has held strong in our belief that when anyone and everyone concerned about the sexual safety of children has the tools to express their concern and do something about it, children will be safer. These tools have been developed in the crucible of collaboration with our constituents and with community level organizations. All of our offerings are informed by and grounded in our direct communication with those we seek to serve. Our Help Services, public engagement, prevention education programs and public policy programs along with our approach to community-based programming is framed by the public health model and focused on creating social change at the societal level.
A dedicated group of women established the field of child sexual abuse prevention approximately forty years ago and have continued to devote themselves to prevention in a variety of settings creating a matrix of prevention that all of us in this work are connected to in one way or another. Twenty years ago, Stop It Now!’s founder, Fran Henry took her place alongside these pioneers, developing, along with her staff, a comprehensive approach to the prevention of child sexual abuse. The original call to action was to all adults to take responsibility for preventing sexual abuse of children. This was not a widespread concept at that time. She also introduced the construct of combining accountability with responsibility and calling on all adults-including those with concerns about their own sexual interest in children and those who care about them- to take those difficult steps to seek help in holding themselves accountable.
From outrage to action
Every day it seems there is another story of sexual abuse occurring in an institutional setting. In conversations with everyday people through our Helpline, with supporters, with fellow advocates and with media representatives, we hear about the feelings of outrage, betrayal and hopelessness. Connecting this outrage to action will create the change we seek. One of the best remedies for feelings of outrage, betrayal, and fear is to take informed action.
How disheartening on one hand and yet, how clearly the way forward shows itself on the other hand.
Preventable, not inevitable
Over the last twenty years, many have committed to action at the individual, family, community and institutional level. Over the coming year, you will be able to learn more about the specifics of the actions taken by us and by those who have joined with us and the impacts of these actions. We will commemorate this twentieth year by gathering and posting stories of successful prevention to show child sexual abuse is preventable not inevitable. A report on 15 years of conversations with people who call our Helpline will tell the story of the people who contact us, what they struggle with and how the service is helpful to them. A stakeholder report on community based programs will provide important information for advocates and decision-makers considering community level work. Through a series of webcasts backed up by publication of briefing papers, we will continue to provide opportunities for practitioners to broaden and deepen their thinking about prevention.
Stop It Now!’s past contributions to the field will be duly noted and we look forward to sharing with you exciting news about our international partnerships, our deepening collaborations with other child abuse prevention organizations, our federal level advocacy, our new trainings and materials plus more about the future trajectories of our work.
We know you share our heart’s desire for all children to grow up violence free and be supported to reach their full potential. Desire backed up by effective action every day requires vigilance and perseverance at levels that may be daunting at times but always worth doing. The team at Stop It Now! is committed to maintaining a vibrant and leading edge approach to meeting the needs of our constituents and to fulfilling our unique role in the field of child sexual abuse prevention. We deeply appreciate your efforts to prevent sexual abuse of children, your interest in our work and your financial contributions.
Deborah Donovan Rice