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Why stay informed about child sexual abuse? CSA is no stranger to Cumberland County and the surrounding area. Last year, the Child Advocacy Center assisted almost 500 families through the trauma of alleged child abuse. Recently, Chancellor James Anderson of Fayetteville State University, the keynote speaker at the 2014 Human Relations Commission Recognition Banquet, spoke hauntingly about the loss of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis in 2009. He reminded us of our personal responsibility to the children and youth in our community — to keep them safe, healthy and whole.

Child abuse, in general, and child sexual abuse, in particular, are neither vile subjects that we can wish away, nor can we afford to pretend they do not exist in our community. April is National Child Abuse Month. In an effort to educate the community, the CAC sponsors an annual conference that informs participants about topics of concern regarding children and youth. This year’s event, A Community Cares: Putting Our Children First, is on April 15, at the John D. Fuller Recreation Center. Unable to attend this informative program? Here are three ways you can be an active participant in eradicating child sexual abuse and other forms of child abuse.

Use Social Media. Follow people and organizations dedicated to preventing CSA on Facebook and Twitter. Personally, I follow Erin Merryn, a tireless advocate for the prevention of CSA and an adult survivor, who details her work to pass Erin’s Law at facebook.com/Erin’sLaw and @ErinMerryn on Twitter. Briefly, Erin’s Law focuses on legislation requiring developmentally appropriate curriculum to increase the awareness of child sexual abuse for children and youth. More details of Erin’s Law are at www.erinslaw.org. Another organization committed to the prevention of child sexual abuse is Stop It Now!, Twitter handle @StopItNow. Locally, the Child Advocacy Center’s Facebook page, facebook.com/CACFayNC and Twitter account, @fayNCcac, share news of local events and information in the fight against CSA.

Attend Local Events. Recently, the Junior League of Fayetteville sponsored a Women’s Conference featuring Dr. Sharon Cooper, an expert on all areas of child sexual exploitation, as a plenary speaker and workshop presenter. Unflinchingly, Dr. Cooper, in her talk Protecting Girls: A Community Response, presented research and human stories on the sexualization of our society, and of our young girls, in particular. On April 10 at 6 p.m., Cumberland County Schools Student Services, Cumberland County District Parent Teacher Association and the Child Advocacy Center will host a screening of the documentary film, Chosen, at Douglas Byrd High School Auditorium. Chosen is a prevention film produced by Shared Hope International that highlights the true story of two “All American” teenage girls who were tricked into sexual trafficking. Dr. Cooper will be the facilitator. No registration is required to attend this free workshop.

Be on the lookout for similar events in our community and become an active participant in the work to protect our children and youth.

Support the Child Advocacy Center. The Child Advocacy Center is a non-profit organization that welcomes volunteer assistance in multiple ways. Interested in volunteering? Call Faith Boehmer, prevention and volunteer coordinator, at 910.486.9700. Another way to champion the work of the CAC is to attend events like the aforementioned April conference, the recent American Girl Fashion Show, or the upcoming Gently Loved Purse Sale. Check the CAC’s website, www.childadvocacycenter.com for information about volunteer opportunities and upcoming events.

This is our community and it is our responsibility to take care of all of our children and youth.

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