Stop It Now! Helpline Collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health

Brief History

In 2000, the Virginia Department of Health began work to bring the Stop It Now! Helpline to Virginia.  In 2003, VDH hosted a Stop It Now! Dialogue and in 2004 convened a steering committee to create a resource directory and develop guidelines for answering calls from Virginia.  In 2005, VDH launched a campaign targeting adult bystanders concerned about potential sexual abuse of children.  The collaboration ended in 2009, after Stop It Now! helpline hours were restricted due to lack of funding.

Sponsoring Organization

The Sexual Violence Prevention Program at the Virginia Department of Health supports local sexual assault centers to offer prevention education in their local communities through funding and technical assistance. The Program collects and analyzes data on the prevalence of sexual violence, provides training and develops and promotes resources. It provides outreach to males to encourage involvement in the issue and addresses the problem of statutory rape through training, education and a public awareness campaign.

Continuing Efforts

The Collins Center, a child advocacy centeri in Harrisonburg, has been funded by VDH to hold Stop It Now! Dialogues on child sexual abuse prevention.  The Collins Center received training from Stop It Now! on its Community Dialogue model in June 2007.  They offer Stop It Now! Dialogues yearly.  Contact the Collins Center for a schedule.

Advisory Board/Collaborative Partners

Virginia Department of Health, Division of Inujury and Violence Prevention
Virginia Department of Social Services
Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance
Prevent Child Abuse Virginia
Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services

Market Research

Random Digit Dial Pre/Post Survey 2005 (full reports available)

Social Marketing

In 2005, VDH contracted with the American Institutes for Research to develop a media campaign targeting bystanders who have suspicions of sexual assault being committed against pre-pubescent victims.  The campaign used the phrase “It doesn’t feel right when I see them together”.  It included billboards, posters and radio spots. 

Evaluation

VDH used telephone surveys to measure the impact of the advertising campaign on people’s beliefs about child sexual abuse and their knowledge of the Stop It Now! helpline. 

Results from the Telephone survey

  • Those who heard the radio ads were 3 times more likely to believe that child sexual abuse is preventable.
  • Those who saw the print materials were 10 times more likely to believe that they can prevent child sexual abuse.
  • There was a 6% increase in respondents who thought that CSA is a serious problem in their community.
  • There was a 14% increase in respondents who stated that they were familiar with the Stop It Now! organization.

Read the Stop It Now! Virginia Summary Evaluation Report 

Media Coverage

A year after the campaign first ran, a controversy erupted as media stories questioned whether the billboard portrayed all men in a negative light. Although the Virginia ad is in no way intended to suggest that loving interactions between a father and child should be seen as suspect, we understand how the image might be misinterpreted in that way.  See Stop It Now!'s op-ed discussing the controversy.  Here is an excerpt: 

"Statistics show that most people who sexually offend are men, although that obviously does not imply that most men are abusers. In Virginia, where the billboards were displayed, research shows that nearly 90 percent of all sexual abuse is committed by males. That doesn't mean men in general pose a risk to children. Unfortunately, some view those statistics as an indictment against all men. They are not. " 

Read more about the controversy: