A collaborative approach to preventing child sexual abuse
Char Rivette, MSW, LCSW, Executive Director, ChicagoCAC
We have the power to eliminate child sexual abuse. At Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center (ChicagoCAC), we work toward this vision by uniting public, private and community partners to ensure the safety, health and well-being of abused children in Chicago.
ChicagoCAC is the city’s only not-for-profit organization that coordinates the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement professionals, family advocates, medical experts and mental health clinicians under one roof. Along with our partners, we are the front-line responders to reports of child sexual abuse and since opening in 2001, we have served more than 36,000 children.
We must work collaboratively to do our best work to prevent and respond to child abuse. As we aim to reduce trauma so that children and families may begin the healing process, we must also reach all levels of society with prevention advocacy so that children and families never have to experience the trauma in the first place. From the individual to organizational to public policy levels, we cannot do this prevention work alone.
It is with this core belief that I proudly serve as a co-founder of the Chicago Prevention Alliance, a coalition of organizations in Chicago who conduct sexual harm prevention education involving youth. This alliance combines expertise, resources, energy, and strategies to make the City of Chicago a national leader in the primary prevention of sexual harm involving children and youth. We know that drawing on our individual and organizational strengths and diverse skill sets makes this coalition exponentially more powerful. Though newly formed, the alliance is already using its collective voice to amplify our individual advocacy efforts and creates innovative and effective primary prevention strategies that can be scaled to larger audiences and platforms.
We also know that collaborative work is not easy. Whether coordinating trauma-informed care and practices between law enforcement and mental health professionals or building an alliance of diverse organizations across a large city, collaboration takes real work, dedication, dialogue, and empathy. And yet it is the most powerful, effective, and necessary approach to doing healing and prevention work. I strongly believe that to restore the lives of those who have been harmed and ensure that freedom from abuse is a fundamental human right, we can and we must do this work together.
I challenge you to think about who you could collaborate with to do your work better. Think about the groups in your community or organization. Are there ways you could strengthen your partnerships or initiate or impact change? Our children deserve adults working alongside them who make time to listen to one another, work constructively and creatively to solve problems and come together to focus on important goals.