Reporting suspected child sexual abuse is everyone's responsibility -
whether a mandated reporter or private citizen. If you suspect a child has
been sexually abused, contact your local child protective services. To
locate the child protective services reporting number in your state, as
well as other resources, call Childhelp at
Permission to copy, disseminate or otherwise use information from this
report is granted as long as Enough Abuse Campaign/Massachusetts Citizens
for Children is identified as the source.
Ever wonder what other people are thinking and saying about child sexual
abuse? We had the same thought so in 2003 the Enough Abuse Campaign, at
that time a newly established effort in Massachusetts, conducted a
statewide public opinion poll to help understand the public’s level of
concern and knowledge about the problem. We hoped the results would help us
develop an effective set of strategies to prevent it.
We were not disappointed. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed
identified child sexual abuse as a serious or very serious problem in our
state. Importantly, nearly half said they would participate in local
community educational programs to learn more about it. That feedback
provided the impetus for the Campaign’s development of a comprehensive
educational program that would break the silence, shame, and confusion
about child sexual abuse and encourage dialogue and action to prevent it.
In 2007, we completed our second statewide public opinion survey of
Massachusetts’s residents on the topic. A total of 650 telephone surveys
were conducted by MC Squared Consulting. Statewide interviews were
completed with 350 randomly selected Massachusetts residents over 18 years
of age; 300 were completed in three selected areas of the state where the
Enough Abuse Campaign had been implemented at the time – the North Quabbin
region, Gloucester, and Newton.
* 8 out of 10 residents believe child sexual abuse is a serious problem
in the Commonwealth; more than 3 out of 4 citizens believe it is
* Respondents believe that children are most at risk from abuse by adult
family members (58.2%), adult non-family members, friends and neighbors
(31.7%), adult strangers (3.4%), and another child or teen (1.2%).
* 93% believe adults and communities rather than children should take
prime responsibility for preventing child sexual abuse. This is up from 70%
who believed this in the first Enough Abuse Campaign survey conducted in
* 64% of citizens surveyed said they would be willing to participate in
local trainings to learn more about child sexual abuse and how to prevent
it; this is up significantly from 48% in the 2003 survey.
* 50% of those surveyed ranked protection from child abuse, including
child sexual abuse, as the most important to a child’s well being; quality
education and quality medical care were ranked next at 20% and 15%
respectively. Economic security and quality childcare were ranked last at
7% and 1.5%.
* 36.6% said that any state funds allocated to combat child sexual should
first be spent to educate adults and communities about how they can prevent
the problem; better police and child protective service investigations was
ranked the second priority at 35.4%; more publicity about the Sexual
Offender Registry was ranked next at 20.5%. Only 7.5% rated more treatment
for convicted sex_offenders as a priority.
Since then thousands of parents, youth, teachers, child care workers,
clinicians, social workers, and other youth-serving professionals in
Massachusetts have participated in free community workshops and
presentations conducted by local volunteers trained by the Campaign.
Feedback has been consistently good.
* 95% said that the trainings helped them identify problem or abusive
behaviors in adults;
* 94% said they learned how to assess unhealthy sexual behaviors in
children and to respond in clear and non-shaming ways to address them;
* 95% learned where to go or who to talk to if they suspect someone is
* 98% would recommend the training to others.
The Enough Abuse Campaign has made progress on many fronts. Since its
launch in late 2002 when it was awarded a grant by the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to build adult and community
responsibility for preventing child sexual abuse, the Campaign has:
* Assessed public opinion
* Organized for community change
* Educated adults and professionals
* Tested our model
* Documented success
* Expanded into new Massachusetts communities, and
* Been adopted in new states including New Jersey, Maryland, New York and
Our task now is to “Build the Movement” by educating and enlisting
concerned citizens and communities all across our states. As a member of
the Enough Abuse Campaign, you are an integral part of that movement.
Through your involvement, you are helping take the public’s belief about
child sexual abuse and transforming it into a tangible and achievable plan
of action by:
* Educating those you know about the nature and scope of the epidemic and
equipping them with useful and specific skills to confront it;
* Communicating to others key prevention messages they can share with
their children to strengthen parent/child bonds and reduce the risk that
children will be targeted for abuse;
* Advocating for prevention trainings and policies for a wide range of
youth-serving organizations and groups that can protect children by
strengthening the circle of safety around them so they can go about their
job of “just being kids.”