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Spring 2005, Vol. 13, No. 1

Expertise in Action

Reaching the Public, Influencing Our Peers

Amanda Horowitx, Helpline CoordinatorAt 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.

Stop It Now! staff at the premiere of The Woodsman.

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 and constituents.

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 is harmed.

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 message.

Just Released: Let's Talk

Let's Talk brochure coverStop 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 behaviors.

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 everyone involved.

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.

Joan Tabachnick

Development News

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.

Program News

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.

Helpline pie chartsFriends 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 for victimization.

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 they love.

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.

Amanda Horowitz

Site News

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.

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.

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