"The one thing all children have in common is their rights. Every child has the right to survive and thrive, to be educated, to be free from violence and abuse, to participate and to be heard. " -Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Universal Children's Day on November 20th is a day to acknowledge the importance of actively promoting the welfare of the world's children. In honor of Universal Children’s Day, ThankYou by Childhood will launch the #EyesWideOpen Adult Digital Toolkit, as an online tool to educate adults on how to identify, prevent and protect children from sexual abuse.
In the United States, 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are identified victims of child sexual abuse. Globally, approximately 20% of women and 5-10% of men, report being sexually abused as children. 150 million girls and 73 million boys under the age of 18 experience sexual violence, including forced sexual intercourse. Children who are sexually abused are at significantly greater risk for later post traumatic stress and other anxiety symptoms, depression and suicide attempts. These emotional and behavioral difficulties can lead to delinquency, poor school performance and dropping out of school. There is also evidence suggesting that children who were sexually abused more often become abusers. ThankYou by Childhood believes that adults are responsible for the well-being and protection of the children in our care.
The #EyesWideOpen Adult Digital Toolkit will provide online content in partnership with, Darkness to Light, a nonprofit organization with the mission to empower adults to prevent child sexual abuse. The Toolkit will list practical advice for adults who are responsible for the safety of children because child abuse is an adult issue. The Toolkit will include Darkness to Light’s, “The 5 Steps to Protecting Our ChildrenTM" from child sexual abuse. Additionally, the Toolkit will provide community resources and hotlines if you suspect a child may have been a victim of child sexual abuse.
It is for this reason that the ThankYou by Childhood campaign will also launch the #EyesWideOpen Adult Toolkit at the West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC)’s third annual Community Holiday Celebration and Toy Giveaway at Columbia University’s, Miller Theatre.
The event will showcase WHDC grantees with aims to support the local Harlem community and will feature performances from local children organizations. Additionally, the children will receive holiday gifts. About 700 children with parents will participate in the event and ThankYou by Childhood will present the #EyesWideOpen Initiative and Adult Digital Toolkit to address the issue of sex child abuse and trafficking.
When children pre-register for the event, they will automatically sign up to participate in the ThankYou Youth Art Showcase. Each child will preregister by drawing a picture of what “every child deserves”. The winning drawings will receive special awards.
During the event, each child will also participate in the #EyesWideOpen Initiative by taking a picture of their guardian’s eyes and posting it to Instagram. By posting the pictures, each adult will pledge to keep their “eyes wide open” for the children in their lives and to help prevent sexual abuse of children. Adult audience members will also be invited to visit the #EyesWideOpen Digital Toolkit link to learn how to be stewards for the children in their lives.
As Childhood USA continues to work to prevent the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, it engages with influencers who are champions for children’s rights. The event will help to attract attention to the needs of the children of an underserved community, West Harlem, NYC.
World Childhood Foundation was founded in 1999 by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden with the mission to defend children’s rights and to promote better living conditions for vulnerable and exploited children all over the world. In 2013, Childhood launched the ThankYou Campaign, a global initiative with the goal of building greater awareness surrounding the issue of abuse and exploitation of children.
Darkness to Light is a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 with the mission to empower adults to prevent child sexual abuse. Through education and awareness, the organization seeks to create a safer world for children to grow and thrive. Darkness to Light’s flagship program, “Stewards of Children,” is an award-winning training that teaches adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. To date, over 900,000 educators, youth serving professionals, organization volunteers, and community members have been trained. “Stewards of Children” is the largest training of its kind, with the largest network of child protection advocates in the world.
West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) was created in 2009 to implement the Community Benefits Agreement between Columbia University and the West Harlem Local Development Corporation. The mission of WHDC is to promote increased economic opportunities, quality of life, and sustain a vibrant community in West Harlem.
Written by Nicole Epps