The Helpline of Stop It Now!

What if every adult had a safe place to ask difficult questions that could help prevent a child from becoming sexually abused?

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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Stop It Now! is solely focused on the primary prevention of sexual abuse - before it ever happens. Founded by a survivor who realized that reaching out to all adults, including and especially those who are at risk to hurt children themselves, is a key to creating the healthiest, safest childhood possible. We offer many tools but our helpline, available confidentially to anyone with questions about how to protect a child, is our hallmark service. Courageous, amazing people reach out for help.

Website

http://www.stopitnow.org

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Massachusetts

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Northampton

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

We are a national program, with assistance and services also provided globally

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In the U.S., child sexual abuse (CSA), happens to more than one out of four girls and at least one out of six boys by the time they are 18 years old. Survivors can experience serious and longstanding consequences. CSA has a negative impact on children’s development and well-being into their adult years. Lastly, children who are abused and exposed to sexual violence are more likely to become victims and/or perpetrators of sexual violence. Sexual abuse thrives in secrecy, isolation and shame. Adults who need help with their own thoughts and feelings towards children have few places to go for help before they harm a child. This Helpline is the only confidential and informed forum for adults to ask very sensitive questions about a very scary topic. By providing support, education and guidance, we recognize that adults will take steps to respond to early signs of risks of sexual abuse.

Providing parents and caregivers, adults who come into contact with children and others concerned about children's safety need access to support, guidance, resources - and compassion and hope - so that they can ask difficult questions about healthy sexuality, children's sexual behaviors and adult's sexual behaviors. Sexual abuse thrives in isolation and secrecy. Removing those barriers help provide children with adults prepared to really support them and keep them safe.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • No, not explicitly

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded

1992

Project Stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages, and has demonstrated success)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

A parent, hearing from her child, that the child's older sibling wanted to play a rather sexual game. The parent is freaked out, feels perhaps shame, anger, fear, doesn't know what to do. Searches the web, finds our website, reads through some FAQs on sexual behaviors between children, and then contacts our helpline through chat, email or phone. Consultant provides support, information and resources, including our tip sheets and resource listings. Often the parent is feeling tearful and alone, and often as the contact is concluding, shares their sense of relief and readiness to help all the children involved become safe, get help if needed, learn more and actively take steps to keep children healthy and safe.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We had 1,635 contacts reaching out for help in 2015. The Helpline has responded to over 17,000 requests for help and support. In 2015, 15% of the contacts were from adults seeking help for their own sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviors towards children and 72% were from people in positions to help a child to safety, help an adult stop offending and get help, create safe environments for children and other bystander positions. 40% of our calls and emails last years were the first time someone was reaching out for help. 69% of our contacts were about an adult's behavior towards a child and 31% were about child to child sexual behaviors. Probably most telling is the feedback received in post-surveys, such as "I'm no longer doing what I used to do, I'm in therapy, and it all started with you." and "This is a life-saving place".

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $250k - $500k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We use a combination of funding strategies including grant procurement and individual donations. Our fundraising strategy is also uses online social marketing and platforms, aligning with our objective to both increase awareness, while expanding and invigorating a donor base.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Many fine organizations work to provide tools and resources to help prevent child sexual abuse. Many perspectives and models are included, from different training platforms to treatment and recovery, to prevent further abuse. Our model of talking directly to anyone with real time questions and concerns about sexual abuse prevention is not replicated in this country. Our exclusive focus on prevention is also unique. While individuals in various stages of being impact by sexual abuse contact us, including survivors, we remain dedicated to providing information and guidance on primary prevention.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Recognizing the importance of understanding children's sexual development will guide us in realizing what's needed to help children early with their sexual behaviors. When we understand that primary prevention of sexual abuse begins with our early engagement with children around their sexual development, we better help inform and guide children as they grow. We can better help them when they may be stuck - through stress, confusion, physical or mental health issues or through a social ecological lens. We (as adults) can learn to talk about healthy sexuality with comfort and confidence,

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

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Photo of Natalie Christensen
Team

Hi Jenny,
Thanks so much for sharing about your work! I am excited about this project. Developing an approach wherein anyone who feels unsafe tendencies can receive support rather than chastisement goes a long way toward changing the landscape and keeping children safe.

I have a couple questions:
Can you illustrate your social-media approach?
How do you intend to reach people that most need your services, and broaden your reach?
Once you've got someone on the line, what is your actual approach? What does it look like?
Do you have plans for anonymous help via a website?
Thanks again for all of your hard work!