Dear Editor:

If you follow the headlines, you know that child sexual abuse happens. It happens often and close to home. This reality can be overwhelming, but it's important to remember that child sexual abuse can be prevented when we all play our part.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this April, communities across the country are standing up for child sexual abuse prevention by proclaiming "It's time … to talk about it!" All adults have a role in child sexual abuse prevention, and this year's campaign encourages individuals and communities to support healthy childhood sexual development by talking early, talking often, and taking action.

By learning and talking about healthy childhood sexual development, adults are able to support the children in their lives. When adults support age-appropriate behaviors, model healthy boundaries and speak up to other adults, they are an ally to prevention. It's also our job to respect children, model healthy behaviors and boundaries, and confront adults when they act in ways that are not appropriate.

There is often silence and discomfort when it comes to the discussion of sexual development. It's important to understand that this is a normal experience we all share. By opening up communication, sharing age-appropriate information with children, and educating one another - we are taking steps toward a safer community.

Choose to start the conversation about healthy childhood sexual development. Whether you are a parent, educator or community member, it's time for you to start talking early and often to support an environment where children are safe.

Victims Resource Center provides educational programming to help parents understand and respond to child sexual abuse and programs for children to help stay safe. Contact the Education Department at 823-0766 to schedule a program. Support is available for victims and their family members by calling the hot line at 866-206-9050. All services are free and confidential. Victims Resource Center is a member agency of United Way of Wyoming Valley, United Way of Greater Hazleton and Wyoming County United Way.

It's time … to talk about it!

Janet MacKay,executive director

Victims Resource Center