Center for Prevention of Abuse offers services for child sexual abuse survivors

Local News

PEORIA, Ill.–A local organization says its doors are always open if you or your children experience or witness the effects of abuse.

The Center for Prevention of Abuse has 10 trained Prevention Educators ready to assist those who are hurting from any kinds of abuse.

These educators visit schools in the Tri-County Area, reaching 36,000 students in 2018.

In 2011, Erin’s Law was passed, focusing on sexual abuse prevention.

It requires public schools to teach children from Pre-K through 12 grade how to recognize abuse and tell a trusted adult.

The Center’s CEO Carol Merna says it’s important for responsible adults to keep an eye out for young people and to stay in good communication with them about what’s going on in their lives.

“We want young people to know that if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable, it’s not okay. And they can do something about it, so we empower them to know what is safe and what is unsafe, and how do I react to that,” Merna said.

Merna also said it’s very important to recognize any concerning signs the child may be showing.

“Know when something isn’t right, know when perhaps some depression has set in. Or they’re not eating or perhaps they have unexplained bruises or something along those lines. We want people to feel comfortable to have those conversations for children that might be exploited,” Merna said.

“We teach the four basic body principles,” Merna said.

“Say no, run away, tell somebody, and be believed. We want to be proactive instead of reactive. We practice that everyday when we go into the schools that invite us in and provide this evidence-based, age appropriate education,” said Merna.

The Center for Prevention of Abuse says 93 percent of sex abuse survivors know their abusers and every nine minutes, Child Protective Services finds evidence of child sexual abuse.

If you or anyone you know need to reach out to the Center’s Crisis Hotline, its number is 1-800-559-7233.

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