Project Be Someone

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A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.

You can do a lot of things in 10 seconds. You can take a selfie. Post on Facebook. Wash your hands. Tie your shoe. Play a game of hopscotch. Take a pledge

It’s not a lot of time, yet so much can happen.

  • A toddler can be sent to daycare in shorts and sandals in frigid weather.
  • A teacher can notice horrifying bruises on a student.
  • A teenager can contemplate suicide because of the sexual abuse they’ve endured for years.

Child abuse is a serious problem.

It has lasting effects on each person it touches. It affects boys and girls of all ages, in all types of families. It happens in big cities, in small towns and in rural areas. It’s a dark and looming shadow in every community, whether we realize it or not.

KatelynnKatelynn

Katelynn

Sweet. Silly. Smart. Brave. Caring. These words perfectly describe Katelynn, a lively and charismatic 8-year-old girl who loves to dance, practice gymnastics, read books and play board games.

On the outside, Katelynn seems no different than any other 8-year-old child. But on the inside, she’s hurting deeply. Until recently, Katelynn held on to a terrible secret – her father had sexually abused her for years.

Katelynn tried desperately to distract herself and others from all the bad thoughts and feelings inside of her, hoping they would disappear. But they never went away.

It took her some time to feel comfortable, but eventually she felt safe enough and brave enough to talk about what happened.

“I don’t even feel safe to pray at home because it (the abuse) happened in every single room in the whole house,” she says.

Katelynn is beginning the healing process and beginning to understand that the abuse she endured was not her fault. She continues to make small improvements each week, but healing will take time.

Katelynn’s abuse history will likely continue to impact her for the rest of her life, at all ages and stages of her life. It will always be a piece of her, but she is resilient.

Although this is a true story, the child pictured is a model from a stock photo.

Julian & MichaelJulian & Michael

Julian & Michael

Julian and his older brother Michael grew up with an inseparable bond.

From the beginning, they learned to accept each other and their differences: Julian is quiet, Michael is chatty; Julian is timid, Michael is outgoing; Julian is subservient, Michael is caring.

Yet what connects the brothers at their core goes far beyond their balance in personalities. At just 8- and 9-years-old, Julian and Michael had to raise each other in order to survive.

For years, the two boys lived with abusive parents who withheld food, whipped them with belts and choked them. Beyond physical neglect, the brothers often witnessed their parents selling and using drugs.

Julian and Michael worked together to find food until finally they were rescued from their frightful situation.

Now, the brothers are slowly learning to trust adults and feel safe in a loving environment with their new caregivers. They are beginning to engage in school more and find enjoyment with basketball and church activities.

After experiencing such a traumatic childhood, Julian and Michael have grown closer than ever. With each other to lean on for strength and support, together they are making strides to find healing.

Although this is a true story, the children pictured are models from a stock photo.

SarahSarah

Sarah

A bright and compassionate 10-year-old, Sarah loves Barbies, board games and playing with her siblings.

But unlike other girls her age, Sarah lives with dark memories that no child should have to hold on to – she was sexually abused at the hands of her stepfather and a family friend for multiple years.

Once an avid reader, her attempts to open a book at home or at school now trigger bothersome memories of the abuse. The quiet solace she once found soothing has become unbearably suffocating.

Luckily, after suffering years of neglect, Sarah courageously broke the silence to share her story.

Sarah is slowly taking steps to recover her stolen voice and gain back a piece of herself that was lost. She is working on ways to reduce her nightmares and increase feelings of safety in her home.

Sarah has a long road ahead in her healing process, but she is a survivor.

Although this is a true story, the child pictured is a model from a stock photo.

But we have good news.

The cycle of abuse does not have to continue. There is hope. Communities are coming together, pooling their resources and making a difference. Slowly but surely, we’re flipping the script – the statistics are improving.

Together, we can end child abuse.

END IT. But to do this – to really do this – we all have to have a stake in it. You have to have a stake in it. You are part of the solution.

10 seconds is not a lot of time. But it’s enough time to be someone in the life of a child. Every second counts. Take the pledge to be someone today.

The 5 Steps to Protecting Our Children™

Child abuse is a community-wide issue that requires each of us to help protect and advocate for our children. Follow these simple and practical steps to prevent, recognize and react to child abuse.

1. Learn the facts

The facts about child abuse can be staggering, but understanding the risks children face can help you better protect them.

  • An estimated 1 in 10 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday
  • 60 percent are abused by people the family trusts
  • Nearly 40 percent are abused by older or larger children

2. Minimize opportunity

More than 80 percent of sexual abuse cases occur in isolated, one-on-one situations. If you eliminate opportunities for children to be in these situations with adults and older youth, you can dramatically reduce the risk of abuse.

3. Talk about it

Children often keep abuse a secret, but talking in age appropriate ways about our bodies, sex and boundaries can encourage children to share. This helps them understand what healthy relationships look like and that they have the right to say “no.”

4. Know the signs

Don’t expect obvious signs when a child is being abused. Signs are often there, but you have to know what you’re looking for – signs can be physical, emotional or behavioral. Click here to learn more about signs of abuse and neglect.

5. React responsibly

Be prepared to react calmly and responsibly if a child discloses abuse to you, or if you suspect or see that boundaries have been violated. This is the moment where a child can learn whether others can be trusted to stand up for them.

If you suspect a child has been abused or neglected, call:

Nebraska

1.800.652.1999 (CPS Hotline) or local law enforcement

Iowa

1.800.362.2178 (DHS Hotline) or local law enforcement

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Project Harmony

Together, we can end child abuse.

Project Harmony is boldly focused on ending the cycle of child abuse and neglect in our community. We have reimagined how communities can come together, by leveraging resources to respond to, treat and ultimately prevent child abuse. Project Harmony restores courage, facilitates healing and empowers each of us to be someone in the life of a child.

Resources

  • Download and print an informational rack card and share it with your network.
  • Share Project Be Someone graphics on social media.
  • Learn more about Project Harmony at ProjectHarmony.com