Stop It Now! was founded by Fran Henry, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who learned first hand that standard approaches to keeping children safe from child sexual abuse at that time did not respond to the complex relationships surrounding most abuse.
Her vision? To have the sexual abuse of children recognized as a preventable public health problem, to make helping adults take responsibility to prevent and stop sexual abuse of children a main focus of prevention, and to create effective programs based on these principles.
This vision has been realized through the work of Stop It Now! and its 26 years of innovative programming has shown that:
- Adults will act to prevent abuse, if they have access to accurate information, practical tools, guidance and support
- Communities will mobilize around prevention initiatives, including efforts that address the complexities of abuse closer to home.
Stop It Now! was founded on the belief that adults are in the best position to keep children safe from sexual abuse. By adults, we mean parents, survivors, family members, law enforcement, and professionals of all types. We also believe that people who might sexually abuse a child have an important role to play in prevention. No other prevention program has ever directly challenged all adults to take full responsibility for ending sexual abuse.
Challenging individuals to hold themselves accountable is an important and bold first step towards stopping the sexual abuse of children. But it is not enough. We must broaden the notion of adult responsibility to inspire families and communities to push for a corresponding change in societal attitudes and government policies. As a society, we can’t identify effective solutions until we have the courage to face the real problem—people we care about who have lost control.
Stop It Now! prevents the sexual abuse of children by mobilizing adults, families and communities to take actions that protect children before they are harmed.
We provide support, information and resources to keep children safe and create healthier communities. Since 1992, we have identified, refined and shared effective ways for individuals, families and communities to act to prevent child sexual abuse before children are harmed - and to get help for everyone involved.
Adults engage in respectful, caring behavior with children and other adults to create safe, stable and nurturing relationships for all children. Children grow up free of trauma from any form of violence including sexual abuse and exploitation.
Stop It Now! relies on the public health model to create programming. Using a combination of research-based public education materials, media messages, and training tools, we seek to change the social climate and foster the prevention of child sexual abuse.
In past public health campaigns, advocates have successfully demanded change in our communities by challenging societal attitudes ("friends don't let friends drive drunk"). Communities have demanded effective public policies which will promote the public health (regulations which prevent smoking in public places). Individuals and communities also have a role to play in preventing the sexual abuse of children.
We believe that sexual abuse of children is preventable. We believe that the best hope for preventing child abuse is by enacting the following policies in our communities:
- Promoting accurate information
- Enhancing services to children who are victims of sex abuse
- Providing specialized treatment programs for sex offenders
- Offering timely sexuality education
- Improving our understanding of behaviors that make children vulnerable
Using the results of interviews and focus groups with survivors, people who have abused children in the past, and the family members of both, we have been developing:
- Sharply focused prevention education materials
- Media messages
- Training tools
- Community-based program strategies
These tools are designed to motivate and support adults to step forward, to speak up, and take action to protect children. With the help of all adults, we have been working to identify, refine and share ways that adults and communities can effectively intervene to protect children and get help for everyone involved.
Together with our sister organization, in the UK & Ireland, Stop It Now! successfully tested the idea that adults will act to prevent the sexual abuse of children IF they have accurate and balanced information, practical resources – and access to support.
Stop It Now! provides a place for adults to voice questions and concerns about child sexual abuse and gives them and their communities the resources to take action. This includes sharing information about creating healthy, respectful boundaries in our families, recognizing and responding to boundary violations before a child is harmed, and promoting healthy behaviors that protect children.
Our Guiding Principles
Children’s Right to Safety and Well-being
Children have a right to freedom from sexual harm.
Public Health Framework
Now! programs are developed within a public health framework that views child sexual abuse as a preventable social problem.
Focus on Adults and Communities
Now! programs focus on adults and communities, challenging them to take responsibility for preventing the perpetration of sexual abuse of children.
Balance Accountability with Understanding
In its work with those who have sexually abused, Now! supports media approaches, programs, and public policies that effectively balance accountability for the crime with an understanding of the need for treatment to prevent further sexual abuse.
Now! views collaboration as critical to the success of community-based programming. This includes collaboration with public agencies, community-based organizations, consumers and those directly affected by sexual abuse.
Research Based Approach
Now! designs interventions and measures effectiveness using research methods. Our social marketing campaigns are based on public opinion surveys, focus groups and other market research techniques.
Help Services - Provides direct help to individuals with questions or concerns about child sexual abuse. We offer help for specific situations through a confidential national prevention Helpline (1.888.PREVENT) and email service, an interactive Online Help Center, and a new advice column called Ask Now!.
Prevention Advocacy - Advocates for the sexual abuse of children to be addressed as a public health priority, encourages increased investment in a full range of prevention strategies, and provides evidence-based information to media, policymakers and advocacy groups.
Prevention Education - Develops, assesses and distributes educational materials through our website, publications, trainings, events and media campaigns. These help laypeople and professionals recognize harmful behavior and know how to take action – including where to get resources for action.
Technical Assistance and Training – Provides consulting and training services to professionals, organizations, coalitions, and community-based programs on strategies, policies and practices for preventing child sexual abuse. As part of strategic partnerships, we consult long term with groups that are adapting key elements of our adult-responsibility, community-based program model.