Spring 2005, Vol. 13, No. 1
Expertise in Action
Reaching the Public, Influencing Our Peers
Stop It Now!, we believe that child sexual abuse is a preventable
problem. We work in multi-tiered ways to motivate individuals,
families, communities and institutions to take action to prevent
child sexual abuse before it is perpetrated. Through our sites,
our national Helpline, and our work in public education, research,
and policy advocacy, we attempt to shift the will of the public
in such a way to eradicate this complex social ill. In 2004,
we were offered numerous and exciting opportunities to deliver
speeches, publish, and conduct training and consultation to
community members, local and national media, and professionals
and policymakers in a wide range of fields. In the last year,
the staff from the national offices of Stop It Now! delivered
over 20 workshops and plenary addresses at national and international
conferences sponsored by groups as varied as the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, the Wellesley Centers
for Women, and the Association for the Treatment of Sexual
Abusers. The topics upon which we presented included analysis
of national public policy trends in the prevention of child
sexual abuse, restorative justice, and what we’ve learned
from 10 years of fielding Helpline calls.
The Stop It Now! staff also published widely in 2004. In
March, we were very proud to see an op-ed in the Washington
Post written by then-President and CEO of Stop It Now!, Fran
Henry, and Stop It Now! Expert Panelist Dr. Mark Rosenberg.
The editorial, "Stop Abuse Before It Starts," garnered the
attention of Capitol Hill legislators and others in key organizations
throughout the US Other publication highlights include several
articles by Joan Tabachnick, Director of Public Education,
including two about the innovative Dialogue Project that she
founded, and articles by Alisa Klein, Director of Public Policy,
about the public health model of prevention and about policy
issues related to preventing sexual abuse by youth.
In 2004, Stop It Now! was contacted by print, radio, and
television reporters and producers no less than 25 times with
requests for information about a wide array of topics. We
consulted on NBC’s "Law and Order SVU" and the ABC series
"Protect Our Children." The New York Times Sunday Magazine
published the excellent multi-page article, "The Making of
a Molester"– the first article we have seen at the national
level that puts a human, not a monster’s, face on sex offenders.
Stop It Now! staff members have also continued their work
as experts and board members. In 2004, Joan was asked to provide
her expertise to the Centers for Disease Control’s work group
on how child-serving organizations can prevent child sexual
abuse. We continue to convene and chair the North American
Advisory Committee on Restorative Justice and Child Sexual
Abuse Prevention, as well as the National Database on Risk
and Protective Factors for the Development of Sexually Abusive
Behavior Against a Child Project. Alisa serves as a member
of the Advisory Committee to the National Sexual Violence
Resource Center, and as a board member for the National Call
to Action, a child maltreatment collaborative of national
organizations. In all these ways and many more, Stop It Now!
maintains its presence on the national prevention scene. For
a full listing of Stop It Now! professional activities see
Message from Maxine Stein, CEO
When I watched The Woodsman, starring Kevin Bacon
as newly-released-from prison sex offender, I was surprised
at how quickly I became absorbed in the story. The movie is
not comfortable. From Walter’s point of view as a sex offender,
the film provides an opportunity to learn about the pain,
self-hate and temptations of a sex offender and what keeps
someone from re-offending once they return to society. It
shows the anger and fear that results when an adult or teenager
we care about is sexually abusive. The film puts a human face
on a complex issue and deals with the conflicting emotions
that are felt by everyone involved in this one man’s life.
Like most movies, The Woodsman is not flawless. Stop
It Now! did not endorse the film, but recognized the amazing
opportunity it provided to engage viewers in deeper conversations
about the silent epidemic of child sexual abuse. We persevered
in creating a relationship with the film’s director, producer,
Newmarket Films and Kevin Bacon that allowed Stop It Now!
to help guide the public discussion about the film. We created
Media Talking Points and a Discussion Guide that were distributed
through our national sites and other organizations. In addition,
Stop It Now! was invited to the national premiere of the film
in January 2005 and received a donation from proceeds of the
elegant evening held at the Annenberg Center for the Arts
at the University of Pennsylvania.
Four Stop It Now! communities used the film as a springboard
for local education and discussion. Stop It Now! Georgia held
a screening followed by a panel discussion. Their audience
included treatment providers; law enforcement, legal and judicial
professionals; members from the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention; and local board members. The response was
overwhelmingly positive and generated hope about how a community
can come together and tackle this very disturbing issue in
a constructive way.
Stop It Now! Minnesota reached out to their local media to
provide information about the film. They received major newspaper
coverage and were featured on two radio shows. In addition,
they distributed the Discussion Guide to their mailing list
Stop It Now! Philadelphia did a widespread media campaign
and was featured in television and radio interviews and newspaper
articles. They also distributed information about their program
at the national premiere.
Lastly, the national Now! office held a private screening
with a panel discussion geared to professionals in Massachusetts.
The conversation examined the ways that adults and communities
can be proactive in preventing child abuse before a child
Actor Kevin Bacon has spoken publicly about the importance
of the film and its troubling subject matter. Most importantly,
Kevin had this to say about us:
“Stop It Now!’s innovative approach to this painful issue
makes so much sense- intervening before a child is harmed.
We all need to be as proactive as possible, because the problem
is so widespread. A shocking 88% of child sexual abuse goes
unreported. Stop It Now! is just the kind of front-line organization
that is needed to help people take action and help our society
move in a direction that encourages adults to take responsibility
for preventing child sexual abuse. If you’re worried that
a family member or friend may be at risk to sexually abuse
a child, I urge you to call their toll-free Helpline to learn
more. Do it before someone harms a child you love.”
Stop It Now!’s Discussion Guide about The Woodsman
is available on our website or by request. We hope that the
film will serve as a call to action - one that motivates anyone
who sees it to learn the warning signs of sexual abuse in
both children and in those who show signs of abusive behavior.
Stop It Now! believes that there is hope that child sexual
abuse can be prevented. The Woodsman helps carry that
Just Released: Let's Talk
It Now!’s newest brochure, Let’s Talk, based on nearly ten
years of our work on the Helpline, is now available. Through
an easy step-by-step guide, it provides a summary of the process
we have developed for coaching adults through their fear of
talking with another adult, teen, or child about at-risk sexualized
Ten years ago, our random digit dial telephone survey told
us that the public’s awareness of child sexual abuse was high,
but that they did not know what to do when faced with a realistic
situation of possible sexual abuse. This groundbreaking brochure
offers, for the first time, our specific recommendations for
what adults can do and say when they have a gut reaction that
“something is just not right…” The brochure moves away from
the dichotomy of either ignoring the situation or reporting
abuse to detailing three levels of action depending upon the
behaviors a caller observes.
“Green light” behaviors are those in which abuse is unlikely.
Readers are directed to educate themselves and those around
them about healthy sexual development in children and teens.
A resource list is provided in the booklet.
“Yellow light” behaviors are those in which some risk factors
seem to be present but there is no disclosure or any evidence
of abuse. In these cases, readers are guided—to build in more
protective factors including a family safety plan for everyone
in the situation.
“Red light” behaviors indicate that sexual abuse has been
perpetrated and disclosed in some way. The necessary course
of action is to report child sexual abuse and get help for
In general, we find that most callers to Stop It Now! fall
into the yellow light and green light categories, meaning
that intervention is possible before sexual abuse is perpetrated.
As an organization focused on the prevention of abuse, we
believe that these situations are critical opportunities for
intervention. Yet, in focus groups, families tell us that
they often get conflicting advice from professionals about
what to do.
Our hope is that in the coming years, our work with other
organizations will help to build consensus about recommendations
for what families can do BEFORE someone hurts a child. Let’s
Talk is an exciting first step towards that future.
The work of Stop It Now! would not be possible without the
courageous support of many individuals and organizations.
Stop It Now! has received over $330,000 in contributions and
pledges so far this fiscal year (July 1, 2004 to March 1,
2005). We would like to extend a deep and heartfelt thanks
to all who have made such generous investments in our efforts
to prevent child sexual abuse.
The list of individuals and organizations who contributed
to Stop It Now! in included in the downloadable
version of this newsletter.
Helpline: A Look Back
2004 was a big year for the Stop It Now! national Helpline.
We expanded our staff and hours, and experienced a 40% increase
in the number of calls. Also, more than half of our calls
continue to be situations where there are opportunities to
intervene before a child is sexually abused.
and family members of people at risk to abuse are our most
frequent callers – about 68%. In most cases, these callers
know both the person who may be abusing and the child at risk
Our typical caller is an adult who knows there is a problem
but doesn’t know what to do. Callers continue to tell us that
the most useful part of their Helpline call is the chance
to talk about all the possible next steps they can take to
make a situation safe for the children, teens, and adults
Here are some other quick facts that people often ask about:
- In 2004, 6% of calls came from adults concerned about
their own thoughts and behaviors.
- More than half of the calls were about situations within
a family, while only three callers out of over nine hundred
had concerns about a stranger abusing a child.
- A third of the calls concerned situations of abuse or
potential abuse between two children.
- 25% percent of calls were generated by the groundbreaking
work being done by Stop It Now! sites and affiliates.
Stop It Now! Georgia recently conducted three focus groups
with parents of children and adolescents with sexual behavior
problems. The goal of the groups was to build on the existing
Stop It Now! data from parents in Vermont and then to develop
new campaign messages. The Georgia site also conducted training
for all Healthy Family Georgia Family Support Workers across
the state who work as home visitors. Janet Rosenzwieg, CSE,
PhD gave a presentation to approximately 80 people on how
to foster healthy family sexuality in their work.
Stop It Now! Minnesota is conducting research with adults
who have abused or are at-risk of sexually abusing a child.
The purpose of the study is to understand what knowledge,
attitudes, and other factors might make it easier for people
to get help in order to prevent child sexual abuse. The research
will be used to identify messages and methods that resonate
with the target audience. The goal is to persuade them to
voluntarily seek help. The research includes one-and-a-half
hour, individual interviews with 30 people.
In February, Stop It Now! Philadelphia kicked off a community-based
outreach project. In consultation with Stop It Now! Philadelphia’s
subcommittee, the North Philadelphia Community Council for
Family Violence Prevention (NPCCFVP), identified local churches
and community centers throughout the city that would allow
the neighborhood residents easy access for participation.
Now! Philadelphia will evaluate this outreach project in an
effort to show that a public health education program relevant
to the needs and interests of each community can provide substantive
and lasting effects on the prevention of child sexual abuse.
UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND
In January, Stop It Now! Northern Ireland (NI) welcomed Brenda
Horgan, who previously worked in the probation service, as
the Project Coordinator. This project is the fifth local project
in the United Kingdom and a public launch is scheduled for
the fall. A sixth project in Black County, hosted and managed
by the UK children’s charity Barnado’s is also in process.
In other news, the Stop it Now! UK & Ireland public information
leaflets have been produced in the Welsh language. The new
leaflets were distributed at a recent conference in Wales
at which Tink Palmer, Central Coordinator for Stop it Now!
UK & Ireland, was presenting.
News at Stop It Now! National
New Board Members The Stop It Now! Board of Directors
recently elected two new members, Patricia Byrne and Donald
McPherson, to serve three year terms. Patricia Byrne is a
Vice President at the Citigroup Foundation in New York City.
She has been working with Citigroup in their philanthropic
program for over 15 years. In addition to her involvement
and support of Stop It Now!, she serves on the board of Easter
Seals of New York. Don McPherson is the Executive Director
of the Sports Leadership Institute. He is a Violence Prevention
Educator and focuses on educating men and addressing the social
and cultural factors that lead to violence against women.
A New Hire The Stop It Now! national office has hired
Jim Habana Hafner as its Development Officer. Jim recently
relocated from Northern California to New England where he
grew up. He brings experience in grant writing, outreach and
networking. Most recently, Jim has been involved in community
development, environmental issues, and agriculture.
Stop It Now! National Offices Have Moved Now located
in Northampton, Massachusetts, we are not far from our former
location. Please note the new mailing address and phone number:
351 Pleasant St., Suite B-319, Northampton, MA 01060 413-587-3500.
Our Helpline number remains the same: 1-888-PREVENT.