News 12 First at 5, Oct. 3, 2007
Aiken CTY --- Two local groups are coming together to reverse a bad trend in Aiken County. A training session today comes a little more than a week after Aiken County tops a list for highest rate of sexual violence in South Carolina.
Sexual abuse prevention experts, social workers and people from the community were among those at today's child sexual abuse prevention training.
Karen Mohammad is out on a mission to end sexual abuse against children. She lives in Aiken. And thinks it's ugly that according to a report from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety Aiken County is home to the highest rate of child sexual abuse in South Carolina. That rate at 53.3 per 10,000 people.
"But it's also a good rallying point to realize we re not going to tolerate this behavior," says Karen.
"I am blown away by the statistics. They are so high, I had no idea," says Aiken Resident Joan Schisler.
Take a look at the numbers: 57.6% of children knew their abuser. More than 30% abused by family members. And more than 77% of children were abused in homes.
"Lets' get rid of this abuse. No reason to have to have it," says Karen.
To curb the problem, two local agencies came together on Wednesday all to educate the community on preventing child sexual abuse. Wednesday's message: safety.
"We need to minimize those opportunities that predators have to be around children. Sexual abuse is everywhere and it's rampant," says Peggy Fork from The Children's Place.
One prevention method: if a volunteer or employee is 17 years old or younger, avoiding 1 on 1 situations is key.
"They shouldn't be walking somebody else to the bathroom by themselves. They shouldn't be in a classroom with someone else with the door closed," says Aiken Teen Pregnancy Prevention's Susan Meehan.
Letting a child speak freely and open their mind, is what Joan thinks can cause a change this time.
"They must be able to say they were abused, and we can help them."
For Karen, it's power. And for Joan it's getting tough. But both agree on one thing... "We've got to stop it."