19 December 2012

Policy: A Run Away Train or the Tracks for Social Change?

By Cordelia Anderson and Joan Tabachnick, guest bloggers and hosts of the Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Series

The stories behind our laws and policies related to child sexual abuse have dramatically changed since anti-rape activists first begun to break the silence around the issue in the early 1970s. With stories from brave survivors such as Marilyn VanderBur, as well as the countless number of individuals coming forward as survivors in communities around the country, legislators felt a pressing need to respond. In the 1970s and 1980s, laws were enacted that established mandatory reporting, the Victims of Crime Act was passed, and funding for school-based child sexual abuse prevention programs were created. These policies were landmark decisions, raising awareness of the issue in hopes of establishing community responses to prevent child sexual abuse. As we moved into the 1990s and 2000s, things shifted as the news media became dominated by individual tragedies and sweeping new laws were passed in memory of individual children missing, abducted, or killed by strangers. These laws—including the Jacob Wetterling Act, Meghan’s Law, and the Adam Walsh Act—shifted the nation’s focus toward crime and punishment, emphasizing sex offender registration, community notification, and stricter sentencing of sex offenders.

While the stories of Jacob Wetterling, Meghan Kanka, and Adam Walsh are no doubt tragic and horrifying, what was missing in the legislation that followed each of these incidents is the recognition that child sexual abuse is most often perpetrated by those known and trusted by the victim. As such, the notification and registry policies miss the mark when it comes to preventing abuse in our homes, schools, and playgrounds where abuse most often occurs. As we consider policies for the next decade, we must look back in order to look forward, asking ourselves: what are the “Policy Changes that Help and Hinder our Ability to End Child Sexual Abuse?”

In this year’s final web conference, we focused on this very question. The web conference began with presenter Alisa Klein, who grounded the discussion in an overview of how public policy is created, defining policy as the “the structures, norms and culture we create and perpetuate around issues of social significance.” Alisa then walked participants through a “policy triangle” – referring to a schema that she developed to highlight the fact that policy is created by the push and pull of many forces including events, media, public opinion, and government. In particular, the triangle highlights the importance of how events shape our understanding of and responses to all issues, including child sexual abuse.

Building on this framework, presenter Christi Hurt of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina shared her story of how she became involved in policy approaches to child sexual abuse prevention in North Carolina. Christi aptly referred to policy in this arena as a “runaway train,” noting that policy is being made every day and we can either decide to get on the train or it will leave us behind. She offered a case study of the North Carolina Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and its work to change public policies related to child sexual abuse in that state. She described how a disparate group of individuals and organizations with some common concerns initially came together and in time, created a multi-disciplinary coalition working together across the state. Together they collected important information about what communities want, what professionals working in a variety of allied fields need, and what the research can say about policies that do and don’t work. The Coalition then organized itself to answer some of the key questions that emerged, such as “what do sex offender management laws need to look like in order to be effective?” and “how do we prevent child sexual abuse from ever happening in the first place?”

Together, Alisa and Christi helped to make the work of child sexual abuse policy change not only accessible, but also offered practical suggestions for how to begin. As always, web conference participants added to the discussion by sharing ideas and resources from their local communities. Most importantly, the presenters and participants helped us pair policy with hope—hope that when we work together, we can change the narrative of child sexual abuse and introduce policies that truly build safer communities across the nation. Imagine all of that within a one hour web conference – this one is surely worth listening to!

Click here to learn more about the Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Series. Slides and recordings are available for each web conference. Sign-up to learn more about upcoming sessions.

11 December 2012

Will Congress Be Naughty or Nice?

As the New Year approaches, we are anxiously waiting to see if lawmakers will be naughty or nice when it comes to passing key legislation affecting women’s health, safety and economic well-being. Decisions regarding the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Shaheen Amendment and the “fiscal cliff” are among key issues that should be resolved before the end of this congressional session.

VAWA has previously been reauthorized, with bipartisan support. Unbelievably, some lawmakers are now opposed to its renewal, in part because the 2012 version would extend protections to same-sex couples, undocumented immigrants and Native Americans.
Take Action! Tell your congressmen to be nice and pass the reauthorization of  the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Obstructing protections for victims of domestic violence is an easy way to get on the naughty list, and Rep. Eric Cantor is on his way to making it to the top of that list. Cantor has been adamant about prohibiting protections for Native-American women, a community that suffers from disproportionately high rates of sexual assault, rape and violence. An alarming one in three Native-American women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape. This paints a clear picture as to why no woman should be excluded from protection from violence.

Also on the naughty list are members of Congress who oppose the Shaheen amendment, which would provide military women with the same access to abortion coverage as other women with federal health care policies. No woman who serves her country should have to pay out of pocket to end a pregnancy resulting from sexual assault. While progress has been made -- with Senate approval of the National Defense Authorization Act that includes the Shaheen amendment as part of the bill -- whether the House of Representatives will allow the amendment to remain intact is still up in the air. Not providing servicewomen with the same reproductive rights and abortion coverage as the women they fight to protect is not just naughty; it’s downright despicable.

Lastly, decisions regarding the ‘fiscal cliff’ are among the most complicated and pressing issues that will have huge implications for low-income women and their families. With disproportionate numbers of women living in poverty, cuts to public education, child care assistance, health care, public housing and nutrition programs for low-income women and children could prove disastrous. The burden of government spending reductions should not be placed on those who turn to vital social programs to survive. We’re advocating a compromise that puts legislators safely on this season’s nice list.

As we work to ensure that women have equal economic opportunity, access to health care and are protected from violence, the Ms. Foundation continues to pressure lawmakers to do what’s best for women and their families in 2013 and beyond.

03 December 2012

It’s Time to Pull Our Heads Out of the Sand

By Cordelia Anderson and Joan Tabachnick, guest bloggers and hosts of the Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Series

For years, we’ve asked the difficult questions: Why didn’t he do something to stop it? Why didn’t she say something when anyone could see that something was wrong? It’s easy to judge others for not doing what we hope we would do if we suspected a child was being abused. But case after case shows how much easier it is to ignore what is in front of us when it’s a family member, trusted friend, respected elder or someone in a leadership role who commits abuse. It is easy to feel immobilized when we’re not sure what to do.

Our recent web conference, “After Sandusky: What We Have Learned to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse in Youth Serving Organizations,” explored various strategies for how to prevent and confront abuse when it happens. Dr. Janet Saul from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the conference by presenting a CDC report about the ways that organizations can create an environment that is inhospitable to those who would abuse children. Dr. Saul’s six strategies (which include screening, education and training, a clear Code of Conduct and protocols for how to respond to breaches in that Code) offer direction for how an organization can make clear that it is not a place where an abuser will gain access to children. Dr. Saul noted a significant shift in how people are approaching prevention—that is, moving away from a focus on evaluating individual’s motivations and instead focus on changing organizational environments so that abuse cannot happen.

For organizations like the Pennsylvania-based National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), the Sandusky case and its ripple effects have had both local and national significance. Karen Baker, Director of NSVRC, described the challenges in harnessing their community’s grief—as well as the unprecedented media coverage—into meaningful public engagement around preventing future abuse. She described how NSVRC is creating critical links between experts in the field and the media, helping them to be more effective in their reporting. This work includes a partnership with the Poynter Institute to help shape how the media understands the framing of prevention.

The conference’s third presenter, Dr. Keith Kaufman of Portland State University, described his work with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to prevent abuse before it happens. Using a “situational model” that has been shown to effectively reduce other forms of crime, Dr. Kaufman is applying this model in youth-serving organizations and testing different strategies for strengthening the environment that surrounds children and teens. He notes that organizations must go beyond simply reducing risk, and consider what can be done to increase protections in these organizations.

Finally, participants from the audience offered many additional strategies for preventing abuse and took part in a lively discussion of what is being done across the country. They echoed the presenters’ emphasis on the need to shift from individual responsibility to collective accountability for preventing abuse. Rather than keep our head in the sand, the new norm for organizations is that “child sexual abuse prevention is our job, it is our business.”

Click here to learn more about the Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Series. Slides and recordings are available for each web conference. Sign-up to learn more about upcoming sessions.

27 November 2012

Use Your Soap Boxes

By Cordelia Anderson and Joan Tabachnick, guest bloggers and hosts of the Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Series

There is certainly good news about the changing face of the media. Social media and the internet offer many opportunities for accessing information, and this web conference series is a prime example of how technology and new forms of media are connecting people like never before. However, these new opportunities don’t come without their challenges. Our recent web conference titled “The Role of Media and Pornography” brought together two national leaders known for their expertise on media and pornography, and examined the ways in which new media and technology have transformed the pornography industry to the detriment of safer communities.

During the conference, presenter Cordelia Anderson (typically a co-host for this web conference series) highlighted the impact of current internet pornography in everyday lives. She explored how we can begin to use alternative images and messages that capture the joy, consent, and mutual pleasure necessary for healthy sexuality. Anderson’s presentation helped us see the need for a culture that doesn’t censor the healthy while marketing the harmful. We need a culture that nurtures healthy sexuality and normalizes caring connections rather than disconnection. This, she argues, is essential for building communities that don’t allow for the sexual abuse of children.

Building on this theme, presenter Dr. Sharon Cooper challenged the standard notion of “what you see is what you get.” Instead, she says that when it comes to media, “what you see is what gets you.” As a pediatrician, Dr. Cooper uses her time with patients and families as a way to start conversations with parents about the impact of media messages on their children, the importance of self-worth and respect, and ways to combat the growing sexual objectification of children -- she refers to these education moments in her office as her metaphorical Soap Box, inviting each of us to do the same. One participant suggested that this could become the beginning of the SOAP BOX Campaign among pediatricians, while another creatively noted that SOAP is truly what Dr. Cooper was doing -- “Speaking Out Against Pornography.”

As bloggers, we agree that it’s time for each of us to pull out our soap box -- speaking out against abuse and objectification of children in the media and calling for models and images of healthy sexuality and relationships.

Click here to learn more about the Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Series. Slides and recordings are available for each web conference. Sign-up to learn more about upcoming sessions.


Today kicks off the first annual #GivingTuesday. You’ve shopped, saved and now it’s time to give back. Because there’s more to do for women in this nation, the Ms. Foundation for Women is asking supporters to please donate today to help serve women who are most impacted by poverty, violence and other forms of injustice.

There's more to do — and with the help of supporters like Shelley Emmer, we're doing it. Shelley not only works for the Ms. Foundation, but she is also a donor “because of its inspirational past and its promise of an even better future.”

“The Ms. Foundation has played a unique role in raising the voices of American women and emboldening and supporting leaders who have improved conditions for me, my daughter and our sisters,” said Shelley. “My donation is my small contribution to this and the next generation of women, who will reap the benefits of full equality and have the uncontested right to control their bodies.”

You can also help secure a better future for women, our families and our communities by clicking here to donate this #GivingTuesday.

The Ms. Foundation for Women’s fundamental belief is that when even one woman is held back, it diminishes us all. Please don’t hold back. Your small contribution will help keep lawmakers and public figures in check, protect and fortify our fragile successes, and secure the same opportunities for all women in the U.S.

21 November 2012

Giving Thanks for Progressive Gains and the Supporters Who Make it Happen

This Thanksgiving, the Ms. Foundation for Women is giving thanks for the transformative gains for our nation and democracy at large in 2012.

After a year filled with contentions over women’s health, immigrant rights and civil liberties, we’re celebrating a few key victories. Gay marriage wins in several states, modifications to the Dream Act, upholding of health care reform and the election of the most diverse Congress are all reasons we’re thankful.

The constitutional ruling in support of health care reform was a major relief for women and a celebratory gain for Americans. Under the new health care law, being a woman is no longer considered a pre-existing condition! The benefits of the law go further; key women's preventive care now includes birth control, well-woman visits, breastfeeding supplies, domestic violence counseling and more, at no extra cost. This is a huge win that will provide millions of women with access to the care they need to stay healthy.

The newfound diversity of the 113th Congress is also remarkable. Our nation gained four new African-American representatives, 10 new Latinos and five new Asian Americans. A record one in five senators will be women, the first openly gay congressman of color has been elected and our new Congress is more religiously diverse. The first two Hindu congresspeople, the first Buddhist senator and the first non-theist have all been elected. Progressive values have reached a new level—the election of four new LGBTQ congresspeople, including the first openly bisexual congresswoman, provides reason to cheer this holiday season. These changes reflect the growing diversity of our nation, our politics and our commitment to eliminating barriers that create injustice.

The progress made in the past year can be attributed to years of hard work at the state and community level. While we are thankful for this progress, there’s more to do in the fight for women’s equality. With your help we’re doing it, and we won’t stop until all women’s rights are secured across the U.S. Thank you to all our supporters, allies and grantees—we couldn’t do the great work we do without you.

13 November 2012

Ensuring That Disasters Don’t Leave Low-Income Women in the Cold

By Ellen Liu and Aleyamma Mathew, Ms. Foundation for Women Program Officers

It has been little more than two weeks since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Eastern shore, and we’re again being hammered – this time by Winter Storm Athena. Harder-hit areas like Staten Island and the Far Rockaways are being cruelly subjected to what seems like a never-ending state of emergency response. 

Natural disasters have a way of exposing the underbelly of the beast.  They tell us a bigger story about our society -- which communities are prioritized and which left behind, who is most vulnerable and who is least, who is able to recover quickly and who is impacted well into the long term. 

Six years ago, Hurricane Katrina laid bare the racial and socioeconomic fault lines of New Orleans, as well as the nation.  It exposed the horrific economic injustice of the most vulnerable, many of whom were women of color and low-income women. 

Sandy, like Katrina, reminds us that natural disasters exacerbate the systemic inequality and injustice already inherent in societies.  We know that women are at greater risk of gender-based violence during and immediately after disasters, which may impact them well beyond the disaster.  A study conducted in Mississippi post-Katrina showed that gender-based violence rose from 4.6 per 100,000 per day when Hurricane Katrina hit the state, to 16.3 per 100,000 per day a year later, while many women remained displaced from their homes and were living in temporary shelters and trailers. Displacement, the challenges of permanent housing and lack of transportation to shelters exacerbate the circumstances and render women even more vulnerable.

The U.S. Census Bureau data two years following Katrina showed that labor force participation rates dropped 6.6 percent for females, as compared to 3.8 percent for males.  A primary reason is that women are often under-employed in the lowest-wage jobs, most vulnerable to crisis situations where they are the first to be laid off and the last to be re-hired.  Women are more likely the managers of their households, with primary caretaking responsibility for children and the elderly. Their situations are worsened by the lack of work supports such as family medical leave, paid sick days and child care, which become even more critical during a crisis.

Many child care centers were destroyed during Katrina, but since government agencies did not recognize child care as an essential service in post-disaster relief and re-building of the economy, low-income families were disproportionately impacted in their ability to regain financial footing. Those without alternative child care arrangements were simply unable to return to their jobs.

When the Ms. Foundation for Women responded to Hurricane Katrina’s catastrophic impact on the South, we knew we had to meet the immediate needs of women, but also ensure that women’s leadership and priorities remained central to the recovery and rebuilding, both in the short and long-term.  And so as we rebuild from Sandy and recover from Athena, officials must keep several key principles in mind:
Women must be placed at the center of response and recovery. 
Women are often the managers of their own households and are at the center of community life. In times of crisis, women must be viewed as community assets, and their input must be considered throughout the recovery process. 

Key work supports are essential.
Women’s participation in the economy must be recognized, and key work supports, including child care, must be provided in this road to recovery and self-sufficiency.  In particular, low-income families must be adequately supported to ensure that they regain their financial footing. Supports for low-wage workers include paid sick leave and subsidized child care.

Women need safety after the storm.
We must be vigilant in supporting families and ensuring that women and children are safe from harm at all times. Women must be able to access services that ensure personal safety. Cell phones are a critical lifeline for women in danger.

The aftermath of a natural disaster is when the reckoning begins.  As crisis mode gives way to clean up, recovery and re-development, we must be most attentive in ensuring that those communities and individuals who are most vulnerable are not forgotten or rendered invisible. 

Indeed, our experience at the Ms. Foundation tells us that recovery and re-building is most successful when the most marginalized women are at the center of our efforts.  It is the collective investment in the power of women, families and communities that burns brightest through the storm and its aftermath. 

11 November 2012

Veterans Day: Let’s Fight for the Women Who Fight For Us

The progress women in the military have made is truly remarkable. During the American Revolution, women served exclusively as nurses, water bearers, cooks, laundresses and saboteurs. In the past decade alone, we’ve seen a lot of firsts for women. We saw the first women in U.S. Naval history take command of a fighter squadron, we saw the first woman become Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard and we saw the first woman receive the rank of four-star general in the U.S. Army. The days when a small number of women tended to the health and domestic needs of servicemen are long over. Approximately 205,000 of the 1.4 million-member active-duty force are women.

While these turning points and accomplishments are impressive, women in the military have not had it easy. Women in the military are victims of sexual assault at greater rates than the general population. A startling one in three servicewomen has been sexually assaulted compared to one in six civilian women. While efforts to stop sexual violence against women in the military have been put forth, little progress has been made. What’s just as shocking as the lack of protection women have is the lack of reproductive rights women who serve our country have. At this time, women in the military who are impregnated through rape cannot get abortion coverage through their federal health care plans. This is a huge injustice. Women in the military deserve equity and should have the same access to reproductive services as the general population.

Passage of the Shaheen Amendment would provide an essential step in the direction of reproductive justice for military women. This amendment would give servicewomen the same rights to access abortion services that federal employees have. This amendment is currently being debated in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. In honor of equity, rights and justice, we ask you to stand with servicewomen by joining former Ms. Foundation for Women grantee Service Women’s Action Network’s campaign asking Congress to give servicewomen the same health insurance coverage they give to other federal employees. This Veterans Day, let’s fight for the women who fight for us. Let’s honor all armed service veterans, servicemen and servicewomen who make America the great nation that it is.

07 November 2012

A Win for Women

Last night was a late one for many of us, and we were tired. Not just “in need of some coffee” tired, but also tired of the attacks on women, tired of the empty pandering by politicians.

But today brings with it fantastic optimism because the real winner in the 2012 election was women!

  • The 113th Congress will have a record-breaking 19 female senators, including the first openly gay senator! (To put that in perspective, it’s still only one-fifth of the Senate, so we have much work to do before women are equally represented.)
  • New Hampshire likewise made history, electing the first all-women delegation – in the House, the Senate and the Governor’s office.
  • Todd Akin – who famously said that the female body would prevent pregnancy caused by “legitimate rape” – and Richard Mourdock – who declared that pregnancy resulting from rape was a “gift from God” – were defeated.

Decisive wins across the United States affirmed progressive values, including major gay marriage wins in several states. After a year of relentless attacks on equal pay, reproductive health and everything in between, women have spoken. Fifty-three percent of votes were cast by women – higher than our actual proportion of the population. We voted on the issues most important to us – abortion, jobs, health care, the economy and equal pay.

Not surprisingly, those are also issues that the Ms. Foundation cares deeply about. While we celebrate the gains women made last night, I hope you will join us in addressing the unfinished business that remains.

06 November 2012

The Power Behind the Vote For Women

By Candice Carnage 
Vice President, Finance Administration

As I waited for three hours in line to vote this morning, I felt empowered.  I proudly cast my ballot with an appreciation of the sacrifices and struggles of the women before me.  As an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, I voted to honor my foremothers who laid the groundwork for the right for women to vote. Despite gross opposition, direct encounters with racism and harsh criticism, our founders championed political activism by participating in the historic 1913 Women's Suffrage March

It was not until Aug. 26, 1920, that women in the U.S. were officially permitted to vote, following the ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing that "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."
Although this was a great triumph for the women’s suffrage movement, within a decade of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, state laws and vigilante practices (mirroring voter suppression efforts we see today) effectively disenfranchised black women in the South.  Today, women of color remain targets for voter suppression efforts.  Clearly, there is still more to do.

Half a century later, the influence women yield in determining the outcome of the presidential election is unprecedented. The fifty-five million unmarried women are seen as a “large, politically powerful and rapidly growing part of the electorate.” While these numbers are impressive, it is important for all eligible women, married or not, to harness their power by voting in accordance with issues that will affect them and their families. For this election, studies show that women care most about abortion, jobs, healthcare, the economy, and equal rights.

On this Election Day, there is a lot at stake for women’s rights. Now is the time to vote on issues that matter most to women.  Women have fought long and hard for the right to vote, and we can’t give up our power now.  Don’t take your vote for granted. To honor the struggles of our foremothers, make your voices heard today. 

02 November 2012

Facing Hurricane Sandy, Reminders of Women Less Fortunate

By Christie Petrone
Senior Manager, Public Relations

With 8 million people, New York City can sometimes seem vast and impersonal. But the city is comprised of so many small communities, places that more often resemble small towns than a big city. It’s those women, men and children from diverse backgrounds – with wealthy and poor often living side-by-side – that form the city’s backbone. This week, each of these communities was, in some way, touched by – and, in many cases, devastated by – Hurricane Sandy.

Thousands of New Yorkers remain without power, including the Ms. Foundation’s fearless leader, President and CEO Anika Rahman. More than 100 families lost their homes in a raging fire in Queens during the hurricane. And parts of Staten Island are still under water. But the dozens of lives lost are the most heartbreaking of all.

Throughout this difficult week, my heart – and the hearts of all Ms. Foundation employees – were with women in the most vulnerable communities, those already impacted by economic injustice and struggling to cope with another blow.

When I stocked up on supplies ahead of the storm, I thought of the women who can’t afford to buy a week’s worth of water and groceries in advance.

When I shelled out $30 for baby formula for my toddler, just in case the electricity faltered and the regular milk spoiled, I thought of the women who could not risk spending money on something they might never use.

When I debated whether to evacuate my apartment – considering paying for a hotel or staying with friends – I thought of the women with limited access to resources and support systems, who had nowhere else to go.

When the Ms. Foundation closed its offices due to power outages, I didn’t worry about being paid. But I did think about the hourly wage women for whom every day away from work meant lost income – and more difficulty paying bills.

When the subways shut down, paralyzing transportation, I thought of all of the domestic employees, restaurant workers and others who don’t have the option of working from home and who risk losing their jobs because of flooded subway tunnels.

When my daughter’s daycare shut down on Tuesday, I thought of the Polish immigrants who love my daughter like their own, and I wondered if they’d still be paid.

And when her daycare reopened on Wednesday, I thought of the daycares that might still be shut, and of the low-income mothers forced to choose between going to work or caring for their children.

During every step from hurricane preparation to disaster recovery, I was reminded that the everyday struggles of those less fortunate are exponentially more challenging in emergency situations.

It reaffirmed to me why the work of the Ms. Foundation for Women is so important. And why we must never give up in our fight to achieve economic justice – equality for and among all women – certainly, in the good times, but most especially, in the bad.

Photo Credit: May S. Young

Investing to End Violence Against Women

[This post originally appeared on WomenThrive]

With all of the talk in political news about “the war on women,” the real violence women and girls endure every day is often overlooked. Whether in the home or at school, in the workplace or in the military, gender-based violence jeopardizes the right to fundamental safety that all human beings need to survive.

Since the earliest days of the women's anti-violence movement, the Ms. Foundation has been among the first to fund domestic violence shelters, sexual-assault hotlines and other intervention services for women survivors. In more recent years, we have supported a range of community-based strategies to stop violence before it occurs—particularly, violence directed against women, girls and LGBTQ individuals.

Among the most serious threats to women’s safety is child sexual abuse, which is at the root of many other problems women and girls face later in life, including domestic violence, prostitution, incarceration and homelessness. Girls are disproportionately affected by child sexual abuse — one in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Attuned to this harsh reality, the Ms. Foundation for Women is leading the charge, working alongside sister organizations to correct the power imbalances that precipitate abuse.

This year, the Ms. Foundation has invested more than $750,000 in organizations working to end child sexual abuse. We’re supporting the efforts of Darkness to Light and Stop It Now! to urge federal policy officials to prioritize prevention among youth-serving organizations. And we’re enabling Samaritan Counseling Center to expand its Safe Church Project, designed to help congregations develop policies and practices to protect children and youth from sexual abuse.

In order to realize our common vision of ending violence against women and girls, including child sexual abuse, women’s advocates from all corners must work together to build a robust national movement working in numerous communities, capable of inspiring hope in all of us and holding perpetrators accountable. Join the Ms. Foundation and help us prevent abuse in the lives of all women and girls.

-- Kayla Santalla

15 October 2012


By Cordelia Anderson and Joan Tabachnick, guest bloggers and hosts of the Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Series that PreventConnect is co-sponsoring with Ms. Foundation for Women.
It was one of those days. The papers were full of child sexual abuse stories focused on the problem -- from national stories such as the sentencing of Jerry Sandusky to a wide variety of local cases involving priests, teachers, and family members. The web conference “The Role of Art in Ending Child Sexual Abuse” was a breath of fresh air because it showed so clearly how the trauma of child sexual abuse can be transformed into a wide range of positive solutions.

Opening with the photographs from Bonnie Fournier’s the SMOOCH project, the web conference began with a clear vision of what love may look like to many people. Bonnie described her process of taking photographs and how that process challenges every participant to consider questions of love and affection. Immediately after the web conference, a participant sent in her own example of a smooch and noted:

“This photo was taken on the second year anniversary of the start of a relationship with the love of my life. We are both survivors and have begun our healing journey together just by sharing our experiences with each other. Smooches help heal lives.”

Moving from the visual to the spoken word, we shared Travis Monford’s powerful spoken word piece that directly speaks to the pain of the incest he survived and the importance of ending silence within families. His clear and commanding piece models how we cannot let sexual abuse move to the next generation. He calls on all of us to break the silence and expose what happens, while at the same time acknowledging how hard that can be. In his words:
We were raised to believe that the family business
Stayed the Family’s business
Cause it was no one else’s business
Finally, we explored Donna Jenson’s one-woman show What She Knows: One Woman’s Way through Incest to Joy, which began as a healing project and has expanded to touch the lives of both survivors and those who abuse. Donna talked about the many ways that her show has become a catalyst for conversation in communities, with most shows ending with audience dialogues about what they can do to end abuse. As she says in her piece, “We made noise, and friends, and a difference.” The show is great example of how art can challenge us all to make noise – to make a difference.

In this short web conference we could see how the arts entertain, bring smiles to faces, tap into our deepest pain, and underscore critical life lessons -- why not use them fully in our prevention work?

Click here to learn more about the Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Series. Slides and recordings are available for each web conference. Sign-up to learn more about upcoming sessions.

30 September 2012

Hyde Amendment Infographic

Link to a larger version [PDF].

Access Denied: There's nothing to cheer about on the anniversary of the Hyde Amendment

The relief that women experienced following the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing access to safe and legal abortion was short-lived. After merely three years, zealous politicians managed to impose their own personal agendas with the passing of the Hyde Amendment, systematically excluding millions of low-income women and women of color from accessing abortion care.

With broad support from anti-choice legislators, the Hyde Amendment banned federal Medicaid coverage of abortion. Denial of Medicaid-funded abortions subsequently retracted low-income women’s ability to obtain a safe and legal abortion. The rights they gained in 1973 were essentially stripped away.

Today marks 36 years since the Hyde Amendment was enacted. Millions of women who rely on Medicaid for health care are still excluded from accessing abortion care. The restrictions imposed by the Hyde Amendment leave many women in a difficult situation—choosing between basic necessities like food and rent or the medical services that are standard among the majority of private health plans.

This injustice must end. Stand up for choice. Stand up for women’s constitutional rights. Please sign this petition from the National Network of Abortion Funds to repeal the Hyde Amendment.

18 September 2012

What can the Chicago strike teach us about child care ?

By: E. Tammy Kim

The need for public child care has emerged as a central, if unintended, lesson of the Chicago teachers’ strike. As the work stoppage enters a second week, the families of some 350,000 mostly low-income, Black and Latino students are struggling to find safe, quality child care—but the call for a reliable, publicly-funded system should be universal.

While the Chicago school district has offered no-cost, “contingency plan” child care at 147 schools and 200 community- and faith-based locations, most staff are not trained providers and afterschool care is not available. Still, the city’s offering points in the right direction. Imagine if all families could access publicly-funded daycare centers or in-home child care, just as they can public schools. Individual children would grow in a safe, productive environment, staffed by professional providers, and working parents, especially those with irregular schedules and lower-income jobs, would have one less worry. These economic and social benefits would redound, moreover, to society at large.

Urban Vineyard in Humboldt Park, one of Chicago’s publicly-funded centers, offers a portrait of quality child care. During the strike, the program has served an average of 40 children per day, mostly from first-generation Ecuadorian, Mexican, and Puerto Rican families. According to the director, Pastor Myrna Nodal, "Most people equate child care with babysitting, but we have trained staff that provides fitness, arts and crafts, music, and socialization."

Nodal’s comment underscores the overlap between child care and childhood education. Both concern safety and trust as much as cognitive, emotional, and physical development. And both should be accessible to families across the class divide.

It’s a matter of seeing child care as a social investment rather than an expense to be borne by families alone. Among advanced, industrialized nations, where universal child care and early education (pre-K) are the norm, the U.S. invests the least public money in this sector—only .5 percent of our GDP. Research shows, unequivocally, that this policy is short-sighted and unsustainable. Access to public child care would mean more flexibility and earnings for working families, safer and more productive children, and a good-jobs sector for providers and early educators.

In the midst of the public-education debate spurred by the Chicago strike, we should re-evaluate our commitment to families and prioritize access to publicly-funded, quality child care. How we care for our children, rich and poor, during and after school, will determine the future we share.

17 September 2012

Start With Healthy Sexuality

By Cordelia Anderson and Joan Tabachnick

The most recent web conference, “Healthy Sexuality and Caring Connections: Foundations for Prevention” featured Rev. Debra Haffner of the Religious Institute and therapist Geraldine Crisci. Both Debra and Geraldine are published and passionate advocates for promoting an accurate understanding of sexual development and healthy relationships. Speaking to an audience of those interested in child sexual abuse prevention, they emphasized the importance of starting with healthy sexuality.

Geraldine emphasized sex education as a tool in preventing child sexual abuse. She noted that that the highest risk factor for sexual abuse is age, and emphasized the need to discuss healthy sexuality at an early age. Geraldine went on to offer an overview of the benefits of secure attachment in infants, toddlers, and children. She emphasized the importance of building respectful and trusting relationships early in children’s development. Building on this overview, Debra focused her presentation on healthy sexual development in adolescents. She emphasized the importance of making moral and ethical decisions about sexual relationships during adolescence, noting that sexual health education is the foundation for healthy relationships.

Both speakers identified the need for parents and professionals to understand age-appropriate sexual behaviors. They also challenged all of us working to end child sexual abuse to think about the intersection of sex education and seize opportunities to bring this conversation into all of our discussions about child sexual abuse prevention.

Click here to learn more about the Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Series. Slides and recordings are available for each web conference. Sign-up to learn more about upcoming web conferences.

14 September 2012

Record Poverty Rates Hit Women Hardest

The most recent U.S. poverty data paints a bleak picture for women struggling to get by in the United States. A whopping 17.7 million women (14.6 percent) lived in poverty in 2011, the highest rate our nation has experienced since 1994. Men’s poverty rate, on the other hand, was 10.9 percent, a staggering contrast.

It’s no secret that the economic slump of recent years has affected both men and women. However, women have experienced a disproportionate amount of hardship. At the Ms. Foundation, we know that much of this disparity is a result of specific issues women face in their daily working lives, including the gender wage gap, the concentration of women into low-wage positions and lack of affordable child care options.

Over the last year we have focused our economic justice work on child care because we know that it’s one of the most important ways of ensuring economic security for all women.

In the past year alone, we’ve provided $565,000 in grants to 12 organizations that are creating systemic change in the informal child care sector. We’re actively supporting a three-pronged strategy to help low-income women, immigrant women and women of color achieve economic stability – supporting policies that provide quality, flexible and accessible child care; improving working conditions for care providers; and recognizing child care as an economic development strategy that supports women’s economic security.

We don’t take these new poverty figures lightly. Without significant changes to our workplaces -- changes that allow women to balance families and careers, changes that ensure adequate pay and changes that demand a better future -- too many women will remain in this state of poverty.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Rappaport

06 September 2012

Lived Experiences Fuel Hope & Action

By Cordelia Anderson and Joan Tabachnick

The August 30 ECSA Web Conference featured two survivors of child sexual abuse who have incorporated their stories into their activism to end child sexual abuse.  Their stories and their work provided a moving foundation for a discussion about how to tell one’s truth with a vision for social change. 

Amita Swadhin opened with her own story of abuse within her family and described how her healing led her to question the responses of the system to those of different class, ethnic or immigrant status.  And these questions led her to the idea of building a theater performance from the perspective of adult survivors of child sexual abuse, which was created by Ping Chong & Company. The result is an incredibly powerful performance, called Secret Survivors, performed by those whose stories are crafted into the script. As a young, queer woman of color and daughter of immigrants she fights structural oppression with the power of her truth and paves the way for the truth of others to be heard.  Randy Ellison, Board President of Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors in Service (OAASIS), was silenced by the weight of shame as a male sexual abuse victim, so much so that he did not disclose abuse or address his trauma for 40 years.  After telling his story for the first time at a public hearing before the state legislature, he will not be silenced again. He authored the book, Boys Don’t Tell: Ending the Silence of Abuse, and is part of the OAASIS Speakers Bureau that works for policy change.

Randy and Amita point out that while speaking out results in others feeling safer to disclose their own experiences of abuse, they believe the power of personal stories is to give hope and inspire action for social change.  Personal stories make the facts come alive and motivate people to get involved. But then what?  When asked what others can do, Amita supported the idea of a national “coming out” day for survivors in order to create a broader picture of who is affected and how many of us are affected by child sexual abuse.  Randy talked about the power of having many voices speaking together, and suggested contacting a local coalition to speak with others on key questions facing our policy makers and funders

Much of the discussion centered on how ALL of us are affected by child sexual abuse in some way.  We defined “Voices of Experience” as anyone who has been personally affected by child sexual abuse –survivors, friends and families of survivors, and the friends and families of those who have perpetrated abuse.  We explored the difficult question of how to learn from all stories – even of those who have abused.  Amita brought forward a quote that captured how our collective stories force us to look at trends and long term solutions rather than just an immediate response: “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story” (Chimamanda, Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story).

Beyond what Amita and Randy spoke about, they also modeled so beautifully the power of combining personal stories with professional goals.  For years, it has been hard for professionals to fully own and incorporate their personal stories into their work.  In this web conference these two survivors, activists, and professionals did just that -- opening the door for others to do the same.  

We ended the web conference with a quote by Henri  Nouwen when we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means most to us, we often find that it is those who instead of giving advice, solutions or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand”.  A huge thank you to Amita and Randy for all you do to build a movement and make prevention a reality.

21 August 2012

A Facade of Progress

By Deborah Jacobs, Vice President, Advocacy and Policy

The strategic selection of former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, as well as South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore, as the first women invited to join the Augusta National Golf Club demonstrates once again that public pressure can force change (in this case made necessary by the absence of common sense and human decency), but it also delivers an unsavory message from the apparently begrudging Augusta National board members: As men, we decide whether, when and which women can participate.
In April, Augusta National failed to invite the woman most entitled to an Augusta National membership, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, to join despite the facts that IBM has sponsored the Masters many times over and that its past four CEOs received memberships. The outrage over Rometty's unjust exclusion reached all the way to the White House, from which President Obama encouraged Augusta National to end to its near-century of sex discrimination.
The inclusion of Rice and Moore – some 10 years since the first Augusta National protests initiated by the National Council of Women's Organizations – represents an important step forward. But let's not kid ourselves about how big this step is. (The New York Times astutely called it “gender tokenism.”) If Augusta National had any interest in ending discrimination, Rometty would have been the first choice among potential female members. Instead, its actions serve as a reminder of the desperate thrashing for control of people reluctantly giving up power.
Consider the timing and selection choices. Instead of inviting Rometty at the right time – during the Masters in April – Augusta National refused her. Then, instead of perhaps waiting a few weeks to save face and then inviting Rometty, August National took no action. And now, as it finally yields to the pressure of protest and the modern realities of American society, Augusta National wants to remind Rometty, and us, that it will continue to exclude women whether we've earned our place, or not.

Photo Credit: Jun Acullador

16 August 2012

"Having It All" Through Employer-Supported Work-Life Balance

By Christie Petrone, Senior Manager, Public Relations

The dust has barely settled on Anne-Marie Slaughter’s controversial article about the difficulty of balancing family and career. Central to her argument is the idea that “having it all” requires job flexibility for both men and women.

(While things like flexible hours, telecommuting options, compressed workweeks and family friendly work environments may seem like a luxury to many, Glassdoor.com recently identified the top 25 companies for work-life balance, based on self-reporting from employees.)

Not only does the Ms. Foundation advocate for policies promoting work-life balance and other benefits, but we also practice what we preach, with generous paid time off and sick leave.

More than a policy, it’s an office culture that makes a difference in the lives of Ms. employees, who are able to achieve greatness in the workplace while also raising children (or cultivating a hobby or snuggling with their cats every evening). Women shouldn’t have to make a choice between advancing up the career ladder and being home to tuck their children in bed.

With President and CEO Anika Rahman – mother to 8-year-old Amani – leading the way, employees feel a stronger commitment to the Ms. Foundation for supporting their healthy balance of work and life. That commitment translates into better responsiveness – our social media guru often Tweets late into the night from the comfort of her bed – and a greater urgency from all departments in ensuring that all women have access to quality, living-wage jobs with paid leave, flexibility and other benefits that make “having it all” possible.

Now, excuse me while I pick up my daughter from daycare; my boss knows that I take all of my responsibilities very seriously.

27 July 2012

Goodbye Karolina!

For the past two years the Ms. Foundation has been thrilled to be a host organization for one of Duke Engage's Moxie Project interns. The Moxie Project is a fantastic program that aims to encourage deep thought and engagement in women's issues, feminism, and social justice. The Project brings young Duke students to New York City, placing them as interns in social justice organizations and supplementing their 9-5 work experience with an intensive curriculum of reading, reflection and activities.

It's amazing to see these young women grow into confident socially conscious women - women who no longer keep their opinions to themselves; women who stand tall for feminism; and women who are committed to changing not just their own lives, but their communities as well.

Today we are sad to say goodbye to Karolina Povedych - our Moxie intern - but we are energized by the intelligence and passion of the "Moxies." We say goodbye, knowing that women's advocacy and activism are alive and in good hands.

24 July 2012

Incorporating what we know about perpetration into prevention

By Cordelia Anderson, guest blogger and host of the Ms. Foundation’s Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Series

What do you think of when you think of child molester? Monster. Dirty old man. Disgusting. Pervert. And the list went on.

Joan Tabachnick began July’s web conference with this question, focusing attention on the deeply emotional component of this topic. During the online event, titled Preventing the Perpetration of Child Sexual Abuse [listen to the recording], Joan and co-presenter David Prescott covered emerging research and the use of this research into prevention programs. David’s incredible overview of the research highlighted the wide variety of adults, adolescents and children who sexually abuse children. David also noted that despite widely and strongly held opinions, the research shows that most who commit sex offenses do not re-offend. This is true for both juveniles and adults who offend. And when they do re-offend, they are more likely to re-offend for non-sex crimes.

Why is this so difficult to get across? One key reason is that the stories seared in our minds are of the most monstrous offenders with many victims.

David also pointed out research findings that show the need to have treatment options that reflect the range of motivations for those who do perpetrate child sexual abuse. He shared research indicating that “punishment only” approaches don’t impact re-offense rates, while sentencing that combines treatment combined with supervision works best.

In addition, David described how emerging research about risk factors suggest that multiple risk factors without the buffers of protective factors create situations requiring clear intervention. Joan translated that research into a story: As one man in prison for sexual offenses said, “All the signs were there and no one – no one in my family, none of my friends, and no one at work – ever bothered to ask me about them.”

Both presenters provided a wealth of information about treatment, management and prevention. They also agreed that as people who care about the prevention of child sexual abuse, we must understand the signs and the conditions that allow children to be harmed and contribute to the development of perpetration behaviors. As the speakers noted, no child is born a sex offender.

Learn more about the Ending Child Sexual Abuse Web Conference Series.

28 June 2012

Supreme Court Victory: 19 Million Uninsured Women Win

In a big win for women’s health, the Supreme Court ruled this morning that the Affordable Care Act is, indeed, constitutional. What that means is that we’re on track for full implementation of many benefits, including:
  • Women’s health services, like mammograms, pap smears, birth control and cancer screenings, will be available with no co-pay;
  • Women will no longer have to pay more than men for the same insurance coverage;
  • Insurers can’t deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions; and
  • Insurers can’t cancel our policies if we develop breast cancer or other serious illnesses.
However, the court put limits on the Medicaid expansion, ruling that the federal government cannot withdraw existing Medicaid funding if a state chooses not to comply with the expansion. This provision was expected to add nearly 30 million more people to the program. You can be certain that the Ms. Foundation and its grantees will be working hard across the states to ensure that women are not excluded from the health care system due to this ruling.

On a lighter note, the Ms. staff shared some laughs together throughout this joyous day, with the Affordable Care Cat and When SCOTUS Upheld Obamacare. We hope you’re able to smile, as well, content with the knowledge that health care reform is no longer in jeopardy.

18 June 2012

Moving the Media towards Prevention

By Cordelia Anderson and Joan Tabachnick, co-hosts, Ending Child Sexual Abuse (ECSA) Web Conference Series

The second Ms. Foundation for Women Web Conference featured the Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) and Frameworks Institute discussing their research about working with the media to end child sexual abuse. The messages of the two presentations intertwined eloquently, bringing fresh insights to media work.

First, Pamela Mejia described the BMSG research, pointing to the dramatic change in reporting after the Penn State tragedy. Pamela first offered an excellent summary of their two recent reports commissioned by the Ms. Foundation, Case by Case: News Coverage of Child Sexual Abuse and Breaking News: Early Coverage of Penn State. The research highlighted a shift in media reporting of Penn State towards institutional (rather than individual) responsibility. Pamela also discussed the important opportunity that advocates had in the days immediately following the arrest of Sandusky. BMSG recommendations included:
  • monitoring the media,
  • piggybacking on breaking news,
  • writing opinions,
  • developing relationships with journalists, and
  • being very intentional about the language used.
Moira O’Neil followed with an overview of the public perception research the Frameworks Institute has done with Prevent Child Abuse America and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Moira discussed findings from both studies and described their process of finding the right frame to change the public’s understanding of the child sexual abuse. Key pre-existing frames to overcome include:
  • the idea of the family bubble, which reinforces individual parents and child’s responsibilities to protect themselves from harm, and
  • the belief that the harm resulting from adverse childhood experiences is not all that bad and the sense that “what didn’t kill us makes us stronger.”
She noted that people tend to think our media messages are going into an open mind, but offered a helpful reminder that the mind is more like a swamp and it is easy to get stuck and hard to get through. She offered the following example: although most people know CSA is a problem perpetrated by those they know, when they get to solutions they revert to thinking about stranger danger. Finally, Moira echoed BMSG recommendations on the importance of focusing the media on the role of communities in prevention and the social causes of child sexual abuse rather than relegating the response to individual choices.

Our closing message: while the media is powerful, it can also be a powerful tool for solutions. We need to build a bigger choir of voices singing the stories of solutions, including stories of organizational and community change in the face of child sexual abuse.

31 May 2012

Recognizing True Nature of Child Sexual Abuse

Child safety laws” are being passed all over the country, restricting sex offenders from accessing public parks, beaches and even libraries. But those laws are too little, too late, for the one in four girls who experience child sexual abuse. By focusing on a criminal justice response for the offender, communities miss an opportunity to prevent future abuse.

An estimated 10 percent of child sexual abuse is reported to authorities. The other 90 percent of offenders continue to live among us, obscured by the fact that they are our uncles, family friends and basketball coaches. The real danger to children is not the unknown sex offender – who may not even be dangerous, depending on the nature of his crime – but the abusers that we trust and love without suspicion. What’s more effective than banning strangers from the park is creating a Family Safety Plan for loved ones in your home. Make a commitment to protect your children – and your community’s children – through pro-active solutions.

Photo: Elizabeth Rappaport

18 May 2012

Communities Must Face the True Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse

A response to the New York Times article, "Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse":

Child sexual abuse is one of the last remaining taboos. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 grown women and 1 in 6 grown men were victims of child sexual abuse. However, even in light of such staggering rates, we have communities throughout the country that would rather sweep the issue under the rug than address the true costs of this abuse.

Whether you are talking about the Catholic Church, which is actively appealing a law that would extend the statute of limitations for victims reporting these crimes; Penn State officials, who were more interested in protecting the football program than the countless boys who were abused by its celebrity coach, Jerry Sandusky; or the members of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn who are actively dissuading victims and families from reporting abuse to the authorities, communities across the nation are deciding to protect their reputation at the expense of their children.

My own experience in dealing with domestic violence in the Asian-American community - a community that prides itself on fostering the "model family," much like Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in New York - revealed that people were afraid to talk about violence and abuse because they feared tarnishing the community’s image. Only when the community addressed this violence openly and honestly could progress and change be achieved. We must display the same courage when it comes to child sexual abuse.

The statistics speak for themselves. We know that child sexual abuse is linked to so many social ills for survivors down the road, including re-victimization as adults, higher rates of domestic and sexual violence and increased rates of substance abuse and poverty. This is an issue that cannot and must not be ignored.

That is why the Ms. Foundation for Women is funding groups working across the country to bring this issue out of the shadows and into the light of day. Hiding it under the rug only serves to weaken our communities – and further endanger our children – but, if we have the courage and resolve to address it head-on, we can change the lives of thousands of children, strengthen our families and transform our communities.

Patricia Eng
Vice President, Grants and Capacity Building, Ms. Foundation for Women

Learn more about the Ms. Foundation and PreventConnect's "Ending Child Sexual Abuse" web conference series. 
Sign-up to receive email about the series. 

11 May 2012

Working Moms are Mom Enough

Time magazine’s recent shocking cover (you know the one where a toddler is standing on a chair while nursing) with the provocative headline “Are you Mom Enough?” has spurred extensive dialogue over the subject of attachment parenting.

However, an important piece of this conversation is missing. While attachment parenting has become a phenomenon among an elite group of career moms who can afford to have their children attached to their hip (or nipple), this simply isn’t an option for many moms.

The reality is that 65% of low wage workers are women, and many of these women are mothers. These women are actually very attached. Attached to their jobs (sometimes more than one) that allow them to feed their families, put a roof over their head, and pay for their childcare.

These women are “Mom Enough,” even if they work outside the home. And, their children aren’t fated for developmental disorders or attachment issues.

Amidst all these “mommy wars,” Time magazine could have lifted up a more relevant debate by framing a discussion around core concerns for all mothers.

Addressing the gender wage gap and disparities in accessing affordable, quality day care options would be an admirable start. Addressing the lack of mandates for minimum paid parental leave after childbirth would also resonate with the larger audience of mothers who have important things to worry about (like keeping their jobs).

Working moms have enough to stress about; let’s not add the pressure of breastfeeding till the age of three to the laundry list of responsibilities working mothers already face.

The Future is in our Past

Guest post by Cordelia Anderson and Joan Tabachnick, co-hosts, Ending Child Sexual Abuse (ECSA) Web Conference Series

With over 60 years of experience across the three eloquent speakers, the Ms. Foundation for Women (MFW) launched the new web conference series “Ending Sexual Abuse” to a sold out crowd.

The first web conference focused on highlighting Efforts to End Child Sexual Abuse within the Sexual Violence Prevention Movement. The three speakers, Gina Scaramella, Executive Director, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Donna Dunn, Executive Director, Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Sally J. Laskey, Director Special Projects, National Sexual Violence Resource Center all agreed that ending child sexual abuse was essential to their own work to stopping sexual violence across the lifespan of women.

Together, the speakers pointed to ways child sexual abuse has been addressed throughout the history of their organizations—from early speak outs, to advocacy with adult survivors, to collaborative work for social change.

Gina talked about BARCC’s work with early childhood education and how their own research showed that 70% of the early education and care workers saw some sexual behavior, but few of them any idea how to respond. The curriculum BARCC developed provides information about healthy sexual development and addresses practical questions such as how to deal with sexual behaviors in these settings.

Donna pointed to their statewide policy work to garner attention for prevention. MNCASA has been able to mobilize a broader community through engaging Voices of Experience and over 50 partners to Demand the Change for Children.

Sally highlighted the ways NSVRC learns from local efforts to develop ground breaking national resources based on collected knowledge, such as, research on bystanders, research on healthy sexuality and involvement in the National Coalition to Prevention to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.

Together, each of the speakers sent a clear message that:
  • Child sexual abuse is a foundational component of the sexual violence prevention movement
  • There are many new ways of pushing for substantive change when we focus on ending child sexual abuse
  • Finding the right partners can lift our work into the minds and hearts of our communities
The web conference ended with a long listing of prevention actions. What can you do? Here are just a few ideas:
  • Attend or listen to a recording of a MFW Web Conference
  • Read the blogs and tell us what you are doing – post your own ideas and programs
  • Learn more from the links listed in each webinar and in this blog
  • Tell someone about the work you are doing or the work you are reading about
  • Know you can make a difference and be part of an inspiring, urgent, and effective movement

Download the slides from this web conference.

View the full presentation online (you will be asked to enter your email address in order to sign-on).
Sign-up to learn more about upcoming sessions.

We hope you will join us for one of the future web conferences or look in the archives for one you missed. For more information visit the MFW and Prevent-Connect websites.