Responding to Sexual Behavior Problems in Youth

Family united together holding handsWith so much attention in the media this past week regarding the Duggar family and the actions of their eldest son Josh when he was a teenager, numerous issues have been raised surrounding sexual behavior problems in youth and how parents and caregivers can appropriately respond.

At Day One’s Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), many of our most heart-wrenching cases involve families in which sibling abuse has occurred. Parents are distraught about the victimization of one child, while terribly worried about the legal consequences to another child. The anguish of parents as they struggle to provide emotional support and effective intervention to both the child victim and the child with sexual behavior problems is real and palpable.

Thankfully, our CAC locations in Rhode Island and our multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach can help families navigate this difficult time. CACs serve as a gateway to services that can help victims heal and ensure youth with sexual behavior problems receive effective treatment and are held accountable for changing their behavior.

It is important to note that youth with sexual behavior problems are more common than most people realize. Thirty percent of the over 100 sexual abuse cases seen at Day One’s CACs so far in 2015 involved an offender under the age of 18 – most often a sibling, cousin, or friend from the neighborhood or school.

There are many reasons children and youth may develop a sexual behavior problem:  lack of privacy and boundaries; exposure to sexualized materials or environment; curiosity that gets out of hand; a sexual abuse history of their own, and others. Whatever the reason, it is critical to ensure these youth receive evidence-supported treatment to interrupt this cycle of behavior, so that all children in the home can be safe.

If we can identify these issues and interrupt this behavior early and appropriately with treatment, we may ultimately prevent future child sexual abuse from occurring. One excellent resource for parents and professionals is the National Center for the Sexual Behavior of Youth, which provides public awareness, training in evidence-based treatments, and technical assistance all tied to managing and responding to youth with problematic sexual behavior.

Finally, and most importantly, at the heart of every child sexual abuse case are the child victims. We should not minimize the trauma child victims suffer as a result of abuse by youth with sexual behavior problems. Whether the offender is a sibling, friend, or extended family member, the victims suffer a betrayal of trust and a loss of personal safety that is deeply wounding. Similar to other forms of child sexual abuse where the offender is within the family, these child victims struggle with both their fear of continued abuse and their love for the family member who has harmed them.

As a society, we have failed to protect these victims and we owe them the evidence-based treatment needed to heal, as well as our support as they go through the challenging healing process. Critical to that healing process is the privacy and space to heal outside of the glare of the television camera and the reporter’s news cycles.

When victims are “outed” publicly in the way the Duggar sisters were, this experience can be as traumatic as the abusive incident. Victims routinely report media attention as stressful and many are ill prepared for the consequences of such media scrutiny. The loss of privacy and control over this most intimate part of their life can mirror the loss of control felt at the time of the abuse. Some adult survivors find speaking out about their experiences empowering. However, the common thread in this experience is one of choice – the victim made the choice to tell their story and exerted some control over the timing and narrative. We can all help victims become survivors by sending a clear message to media that we do not want the names of victims shared without their permission, nor should victims be hounded to tell “their side” of the story.

As a professional who has witnessed countless cases of child abuse and neglect over the years, I hope this instance will only further draw attention to the issue of child abuse and how we all are responsible for protecting Rhode Island’s children. I also encourage parents and caregivers to visit Day One’s web site to learn more about the services offered by our Children’s Advocacy Center. With CAC locations across the state, there are intervention and prevention services readily available so those in similar situations to the Duggar family may seek the help and treatment they need and deserve.

Peg Langhammer, Executive Director, Day One

Keynote speaker offers powerful message at Day One’s Annual Conference

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Day One’s 2015 Annual Conference closed out Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a focus on prevention, training and treatment.  Our annual conference featured Dorothy Edwards, Executive Director of green dot, etc., who started off the day with an inspiring talk about prevention of power-based personal violence. She also served as instructor for a three-part bystander intervention training session during the conference.

“I do this work because I believe with everything in me that current rates of power-based personal violence are not inevitable. I do this work because if I didn’t believe this could change – I would be accepting some truths about humanity that I am just not willing to accept.” – Dorothy Edwards

sandy and dorothy One Voice peg1 dorothy1 conf crowd1

Other sessions included survivors from One Voice, Day One’s survivor advocacy group, who spoke about the impact of victimization, a brief overview of human trafficking, and trauma-informed treatment therapies.

Pre-conference focused on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children 

Day One also hosted a pre-conference the day before to provide an inside look at commercial sex trafficking in Rhode Island and how the statewide trafficking task force is addressing it.

Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed offered welcoming remarks and a commitment to working to end human trafficking in Rhode Island. The panel featured US Attorney Peter Nerhona and representatives from Day One, the RI Attorney General’s Office, RI State Police, Providence Police, and Homeland Security.

TPW pre conf RISP  pre conf audience member pre cnf PN

This packed half-day session covered:

  • Recommendations and discussion around statewide policy changes 
  • An honest, transparent look at how the response process is changing for the better
  • Actions to take for both high-risk youth and identified victims
  • Actual trafficking case presentations and discussion
  • Next steps

Day One 5K raises over $27,000 to support victims of sexual violence

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This gallery contains 11 photos.

On April 12, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Day One hosted our second annual 5K and the turnout pretty much blew our minds! Since last year, the number of participants grew by over 200 people. We had 750 … Continue reading

Day One Board Member Honored by National Sexual Violence Resource Center

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Day One Board President Peter Loescher and Executive Director Peg Langhammer present Dr. Amy Goldberg (center) with Visionary Voice award.

Dr. Amy Goldberg, who serves on Day One’s Board of Directors, received one of this year’s Visionary Voice awards from the NSVRC.

In the Movement

Amy Goldberg currently sees patients in the Lawrence A. Aubin Sr. Child Protection Center at Hasbro and is an Associate Professor at Brown University. Her research interests include child maltreatment, children with special needs, and acute sexual assault.

Roles and Organization

Amy has published several papers and textbook chapters on child physical and sexual abuse and is actively involved in community partnerships, including the Rhode Island Child Death Review Team, Child Welfare Advisory Council and the Rhode Island Children’s Advocacy Center Advisory Committee. She is a board member of the Rhode Island Chapter of the AAP and is the Chair of the RI-AAP Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. Goldberg recently was awarded funds to start the first medical protocols for domestic minor sex trafficked youth in the state of Rhode Island.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, an expert in sexual violence prevention and response, announces 30 recipients of the 2015 Visionary Voice Award. The multidisciplinary group of honorees is selected for their outstanding work toward ending sexual violence.

The Visionary Voice Award is presented annually by the NSVRC in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a national campaign held each April to raise awareness about preventing sexual violence.

The complete list of honorees can be viewed here.

Governor Raimondo joins Day One to kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Day One held a news conference on March 30 to begin Sexual Assault Awareness Month and announce a new initiative aimed at effectively responding to adult sexual assault cases in Rhode Island. Speakers included Governor Gina M. Raimondo, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr., Day One Executive Director Peg Langhammer, and Brown University senior and activist Katie Byron.

“The issue is important to me as a governor…. The issue is important to me as a mother. Our students deserve to go to a place where they can learn and be free of the danger of sexual assault.” – Governor Raimondo

Day One formally announced a specialized task force to address adult sexual assault in Rhode Island that includes law enforcement, prosecution, Day One advocates, medical professionals, and higher education representatives.

The approach has to be victim centered, and we need to give the victim choices, whether they want to proceed on college campus, with law enforcement, or with just the victim advocate,” – Col. Clements

This task force will be responsible for the oversight of adult sexual assault cases from the initial report to investigation and prosecution to trauma-informed clinical treatment and support for the victim. The goals of the task force are to:

  • Establish a comprehensive and collaborative multi-disciplinary team approach to dealing with adult sexual assault cases statewide
  • Develop and implement policies and protocols using a best practices approach to investigation and prosecution
  • Improve response rate to sexual assault victims in urgent need of services
  • Ensure that an efficient system of response is accessible to all victims

There is currently no consistent, centralized means of tracking of sexual assault data in Rhode Island.  Without effective tracking, many of these cases cannot be properly monitored and followed up on. We know that, based on successful models in other states, a positive experience during initial reporting creates an environment where victims feel supported and believed, and decreases re-traumatization.

“Student survivors are speaking out about their experiences and in doing so, [they] are holding their universities accountable for creating safe learning environments for all students,” – Katie Byron

Check out some of the media coverage from Monday’s event!

Top 5 Reasons To Run or Walk in the Day One 5K

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Still haven’t registered for the Day One 5K on April 12? Time is running out! It’s going to be a great day on a beautiful course through the East Side of Providence. But if you still need some convincing, here’s why this race is important:

  1. Sexual violence is more common than you think

One in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college (NSVRC). One in every four girls and one in every six boys will be a victim of sexual abuse before age 18.

  1. Sexual violence can be prevented

Together, we can stop it. Having the conversation with your friends, family, and others so this systemic behavior can be addressed is essential to making change!

  1. Exercise is good for your heart

Spring has to get here at some point, right? Why not take your exercise routine outside? Did you know walking helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart failure?

  1. Public events raise public awareness, and that’s a good thing

More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault. We can change that by supporting and believing victims when they disclose.

  1. We can’t do it alone

Preventing sexual violence on campus takes more than one department, office, club, team, administrator, professor, staff member, or student. It takes all of us, working together in big and small ways.

What is campus sexual violence?

festaPreventing sexual violence on campus takes more than one department, office, club, team, administrator, professor, staff member, or student. It takes all of us, working together in big and small ways. Everyone can play a role in creating safety, equality, and respect on campus.

What is sexual violence? Sexual violence occurs when someone is forced or coerced into unwanted sexual activity without agreeing or consenting. Reasons someone might not be able to consent include:

  • fear
  • being underage
  • having illness or disability
  • incapacitation due to alcohol and other drugs

Consent can be given initially and later be withdrawn. Sexual violence is a crime that comes in many forms, including forced intercourse, sexual contact or touching, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and exposure or voyeurism. Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault. It does not matter what the victim is wearing or doing, whether the victim has been drinking, or what type of relationship the victim has with the person who is sexually abusing them.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and will focus on campus sexual violence. Day One will host several activities throughout the month to raise awareness. REGISTER NOW for the 2nd annual Day One 5K on April 12 and show your support!