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‘Parent Cafés’ to Address Child Sexual Abuse

SPRINGFIELD — Parents will discuss what adults can do to protect their children from child sexual abuse at a series of “Parent Cafés” titled “Keeping Privates Private,” to be held in Springfield, Holyoke, East Longmeadow, and Ludlow throughout April.

The events, sponsored by the Prevention Collaboration — a community-based group organized out of the Family Advocacy Center at Baystate Children’s Hospital — are being held in conjunction with Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The Prevention Collaboration is dedicated to helping the community take action to prevent child sexual abuse.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month and throughout the year, Baystate Children’s Hospital encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making the community a better and safer place for children and families. It is important to recognize that sexual, physical, emotional, and neglect are all different types of abuse.

“Abuse is a terrible thing to happen to a child, but can be prevented by a caring adult,” said Dr. Stephen Boos, medical director, Family Advocacy Center at Baystate Children’s Hospital. He noted that ensuring parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children can help prevent child abuse and neglect.

Parent Cafés will be held on the following dates, times, and locations:

• Monday, April 3, Public Library, 250 Chestnut St., Holyoke, 5:30 to 7 p.m.;

• Wednesday, April 5, Public Library, 60 Center Square, East Longmeadow, 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.;

• Wednesday, April 26, HCS Head Start, 54 Windsor St., Ludlow, 5:30 to 7 p.m.; and

• Thursday, April 27, Early Childhood Education Center, 15 Catharine St., Springfield, 4 to 6 p.m.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four girls and one in six boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before they turn 18. Sexual abuse does not discriminate; children and adolescents of all races, cultures, and backgrounds are all equally susceptible to sexual abuse.

Those attending the events will receive the children’s book My Body Belongs To Me, then guided through a discussion of parenting choices to use the book and help prevent child sexual abuse in their families.

In “A Letter to Grown-Ups” in her book, author Jill Starishevsky writes, “just as we teach young people what to do in case of fire, we must teach them what to do if someone touches them inappropriately — or forces them to touch others inappropriately.” The book’s central message is: “if someone touches you, tell.”

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