Rei Weintraub, Age 15
My name is Rei, I am a sophomore at LREI. Two years ago, as a part of my eighth grade curriculum, we did a project on Social Justice. My classmates and I were assigned to pick a social justice issue that interested us. The project included partnering with organizations, volunteer work, and learning about the topic through a variety of experiences. This is where we came into contact with Nicole and Joanna from the World Childhood Foundation. They gave us some incredible insight about how we, as kids, can spread the word about child abuse. I was interested in learning about child abuse because it was a topic that I had never been exposed to before. I began to wonder why we had never learned or discussed child abuse before in my school. It turned out that my school had never brought up the topic because parents were offended to talk about it. They assumed that child abuse only happened in poor communities, with parents who were unqualified to take care of their children. The reality is that child abuse is all around us. It is just a topic that people hide away, because they are afraid to discuss it. This is something we need to change. By hiding this topic away, we are silencing the voices of children who are being, or have been victimized. Before we began the project, we interviewed and recorded some students in our school about what they would do in a situation of child abuse. We asked them what they would do if a friend talked to them about their situation at home. We interviewed about 20 students and we were surprised to find that none of them knew exactly what to do.
Children being victimized are often taught to believe that the abuse that they are experiencing is normal. In most cases, children are taught or threatened by their abuser to keep quiet about their abuse. As a heartbreaking result, research shows that only 1 in 10 child abuse cases are reported. This shocked me because I realized that some of my friends must be experiencing hidden away abuse at home.
After our study on child abuse, we had the chance to teach younger students in our school about this topic. We explained the issue, and what they all can do as kids, to raise awareness and help. It is important for kids to understand that it is not their job to make a report for themselves, or for a friend. However, it is important to tell a trusted adult or teacher.
As long as it is taught in an age appropriate way, child abuse is not a topic that is difficult for children to understand. Kids need to be as comfortable dealing with child abuse safety as they are with fire safety. Should this be accomplished, children and adults can feel more comfortable openly talking about, identifying, and reporting cases of child abuse.
This summer, I came back for an internship at World Childhood because I was interested in the work that people are doing to give all children safe and happy childhoods. I intend to convey the information I learned while working at World Childhood to other kids in my school, and around the world.
Davi Lennon, Age 16
My name is Davi Lennon and I am a Senior at Fieldston. I have interned with the World Childhood Foundation for two years now. When I was in my sophomore year of high school my mom told me that we were going to a Gala. One of her friends had invited me and her, but all I knew about the event is that I would get to wear a floor-length dress and be in the same room as the Queen of Sweden. Little did I know, I would fall in love with Childhood. I remember walking into Cipriani in a pink and orange dress, taken aback by the beautiful lights and the beautiful people, totally unsure of where the night was headed. I clearly didn’t know enough about the organization, so I took to reading the program. I sat there, while everyone filed into their seats, reading and reading about Childhood and who was being awarded and I immediately felt connected. There was an entire organization dedicated to my safety, to the safety of all my friends, younger cousins, and children around the world, and I wanted to be a part of it. Reading this program reaffirmed in my mind that child sexual abuse was the issue that nobody wanted to talk about. It seemed like the issue was either too raw, too painful, or too “unimaginable” to warrant being at the forefront of conversation or news, and I wanted that to change.
After talking with Nicole Epps and going through the application and interview process, I found myself at the Childhood office on my first day of work, more excited than ever. My role, as it does now, at Childhood mostly revolved around social media, so on that first day I looked at all of Childhood’s platforms, took notes, and the next thing I knew, my ideas were approved and I was posting and making changes. For me, this was a huge deal: I had the chance to influence what content went on an international platform. In the following weeks, with Childhood’s support I had launched the #1in10 movement that highlights the 1 in 10 children who are sexually abused before the age of 18, pitched a possible partnership, and learned the ins and outs of Childhood as an organization and as a team. The Childhood team is really a family. I have never met people more dedicated to their cause and being a part of this team has been one of the best, most rewarding experiences of my life. There is nothing better than working with a community who is genuinely passionate about what they do.
Childhood has given me the opportunity to directly engage with their communities and I am continuously honored and ecstatic about it. Working at Childhood since the summer of 2017 not only gave me a unique outlook on how an organization is able to affect change, but also taught me so much about child sexual abuse and exploitation, its prevalence, and what steps are possible to take to prevent it. I feel like my work experience so far has been an embodiment of Childhood’s mission: Childhood has educated me on the issue of child sexual abuse, exploitation, and violence and it has allowed me to work with them on methods to prevent and assess these issues. Since these issues are constantly evolving–especially now with the seemingly infinite growth of the digital sphere–so does Childhood. There is never a day here where I do not learn. There is not a day here where I do not feel even more motivated to come back and do work the next. I feel truly lucky to be apart of a team and and organization committed to something that I hold next to my heart.