Sexual abuse is nothing less than a world wide plague, happening in every country, regardless of gender, social class, religion, or -- worst of all -- age. According to recent statistics, 1 in 4 girls, and 1 in 6 boys, is sexually assaulted before they turn 18. This is one of the reasons why April is National Child Abuse Awareness month in Canada, as well as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month. In Hamilton, I'm involved in a homegrown event to spread awareness of support groups and hotline numbers, simply called the Child and Sexual Abuse Awareness Event.
It will be held on April 25th, from 12:30 to 5:00 pm at the corner of King St and James in Downtown Hamilton. In other words, it's the entrance to Jackson Square, closest to Gore Park. What we're doing is collecting and re-distributing pamphlets and phone numbers to support services in the Hamilton area, so we won't be taking donations -- save those for the actual shelters and clinics, please.
It's also a busking event -- sort of a small scale benefit concert -- so if you're a poet, singer, or musician, by all means come on down and get people's attention. And boy do we ever need to...
According to the most recent stats I can find, the median age for a sexual abuse survivor, is just 9 years old. Nearly all are abused by someone who they know and trust -- as many as 40% by a family member. It also happens a lot more than you might think -- it's estimated that in this part of the world alone, there are about 40 million childhood sexual abuse survivors. Think about that: not only is every fourth or fifth kid in public school being raped by a close friend or family member, but altogether you can fill an average sized country with the number of kids being preyed on -- no, make that betrayed and shattered.
It really is something of a miracle that any of these kids can get themselves back together after something that horrible, and without help, the odds are definitely against them; children who have been sexually assaulted are much more likely later in life to become severely depressed, permanently traumatized, develop eating disorders, lash out, get hooked on booze or drugs, attempt or commit suicide, or worst of all, become abusers themselves.
Finally, I really really hope this goes without saying, but if you have any solid reason to believe that a child is being abused, report it to the police immediately. Most sexual offenders have up to 9 victims, others have 40 or more. It has been said by some, that the average molester may have as many as 400 victims in his or her lifetime. Speak out for them -- you may be surprised at how many of them are children you see every day as you go to work.
So, if you want to contribute to this, please e-mail Lindsay of The Sadie Project, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just drop by the corner of King and James in Hamilton, on the afternoon of April 25. Once again, don't worry about donations, just bring whatever information you can so we can then get it out to the people who need it. That's it for me.