Campaign Emphasizes the Important Role Everyone Can Play in Preventing Abuse and Helping Survivors
New Zealand has some of the world’s highest rates of child sexual abuse with one in three New Zealand girls and one in seven boys at risk of being sexually abused. Speak Up – Stop the Silence®, a Campaign to End Child Sexual Abuse in New Zealand, launched today through a partnership between Stop the Silence®, a non-profit organization in the United States, and Trust MYRIVR, a New Zealand-based non-profit that conceptualized and promotes awareness of New Zealand’s largest app directory of health and social service providers.
The campaign, Speak Up – Stop the Silence®, is designed to lift the veil on child sexual abuse and equip all community members to confront it. The campaign will help all New Zealanders prevent and mitigate child sexual abuse, and will also include culturally appropriate strategies for Maori and Pacific Islander communities.. Specific objectives of the campaign include:
Improve timeliness of care for child sexual abuse victims and survivors, Improve service response to children, adolescents, and adult survivors, Improve understanding of and coordination and referrals between service providers— including health workers, police, educators, and social service workers— and authorities, and Improve the health, safety, and well-being of staff who work with survivors so that they are equipped in mind, body, and soul to prevent child sexual abuse and help survivors.
“This is the beginning of something big in the global effort to end child sexual abuse,” said Pamela Pine, PhD, MPH, founder and CEO of Stop the Silence®. “Ultimately, we want the Speak Up campaign to benefit millions of children and adults, as well as the communities where they live.”
The first step in the campaign has been an update to the MYRIVR app, which now allows anyone in New Zealand to quickly look up and connect with thousands of qualified service providers trained to help survivors of child sexual abuse across New Zealand.
The campaign will next kick off a three-day training for leaders from government agencies, non-profits, and community-based organizations on how to identify, end, and prevent child sexual abuse and help victims, survivors, and their families heal. The training will begin 26th November at the Manurewa Marae in Auckland with a powhiri, a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony.
Following the training, an awareness and education campaign spearheaded by local communities and partners will roll out across the nation. The goal is to improve knowledge and understanding among the public around child sexual abuse and its symptoms, consequences, prevention, and treatment by providing targeted information to specific groups through mass and social media, and with support from other non-profits as well as the corporate community. In addition to helping people recognize signs of child sexual abuse, these efforts will encourage people to use the MYRIVR app as an easy way to get help for survivors.
“We are excited to partner with Stop the Silence® on this important initiative,” said Akerei Maresala-Thomson, CEO and co-founder of Trust MYRIVR. “We hope to demonstrate the practical benefits of this grassroots solution for linking people with the critical services they need, quickly and efficiently.”
Drawing from nearly 20 years of programming, and further based on the experience in New Zealand, Stop the Silence® hopes to expand the campaign globally in collaboration with Trust MYRIVR and other local, national, and international groups. An extensive evaluation, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Global Ideas Fund at CAF America, will be conducted by Massey University to assess the efficacy of the campaign and how it might be replicated in communities worldwide, including those in the U.S.
“Childhood trauma can lead to a host of health issues, from mental health problems to obesity, but it can be prevented, and survivors can be treated to help them heal and thrive,’’ said Laura Leviton, senior adviser for evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropy focused on improving health and well-being in the United States. “As we work to improve health in our own nations, it is important that we examine promising approaches like Speak Up – Stop the Silence®, and how we might adapt them to help communities around the world expose and stop child sexual abuse.”
The campaign will be guided by a distinguished advisory board:
• Rain Henderson, CEO, Elemental Advisors
• Sandi Capuano Morrison, CEO, Family Violence & Sexual Assault Institute
• Bob Geffner, PhD, President and Founder of the Family Violence & Sexual Assault Institute and Founding President of the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma at Alliant International University
• Lua Maynard, White Ribbon Ambassador Facilitator, Safe Man, Safe Families, and Advisor for New Zealand Police
• Natania Katene, Maori Outreach Coordinator, Young Enterprise NZ
• Jane Searle, Chief Executive Officer, Child Matters
For more information on the Speak Up - Stop the Silence® campaign, visit https:// stopthesilence.org/our-work/.