Advocates study up on protecting children from sexual abuse

By Anna Yee

February 12, 2013 Updated Feb 12, 2013 at 10:37 PM CDT

GALESBURG, Ill. -- Late last year, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services reported downstate child sex abuse rates more than doubled the state average.

Now local anti-abuse advocates are stepping up their preventative measures. Tuesday, nearly 50 area counselors, educators and others attended the "Stewards of Children" training program in Galesburg.

Organizers say education is key to keeping sexual abuse rates down and say research shows for every adult trained, 10 children will be better protected.

"With statistics like one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, it is an epidemic in our country, and we do need to address that," said Denise McCaffrey, Director of Prevention Awareness and Education for Prevent Child Abuse Illinois."

"So, raising awareness and education out there to adults is the best way we can do that," continued McCaffrey.

"You can never have too much education," said Julie Bevenour, children's advocate at the Safe Harbor Family Crisis Center in Galesburg, "and if you're someone who works with children or even cares about children and want to know what signs to look for and how to help them, reaching out and getting that information is always a good thing."

If you or someone you know is being sexually abused, call the national Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE.

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