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Anyone responsible for children—be it in a school, institution, youth serving agency, after-school program, faith-based program, or other child-care setting—knows that keeping those children protected and safe is a top concern. And in an increasingly unsafe world, shielding kids from harm may seem like a daunting task.
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 2 million reports of alleged child abuse or neglect were investigated by child protective service agencies, representing more than 2.7 million children who were alleged victims of maltreatment. Another study, conducted by Sabol, Polousky, and Billing, estimated that nearly 17% of children could be expected to have substantiated reports of maltreatment before reaching age eight.
Top Safety Concerns for Teens
Source: Feeling Safe: What Girls Say (Girl Scout Research Institute)
The Internet, for all of its incredible benefits, is a potentially hazardous territory for children and cause for worry among concerned adults. A Girl Scout Research Institute study called The Net Effect: Girls and New Media, over 30% of girls reported being sexually harassed in a chat room, though only 7% reported the incident to a parent or caregiver.
The effects of feeling unsafe are widespread and damaging. In the study Feeling Safe: What Girls Say, the Girl Scout Research Institute found that girls who feel physically unsafe are more likely to cope with emotionally dangerous situations by using alcohol or drugs, than girls who feel safe (13% vs. 1%), and are nearly three times as likely as those who feel safe to spend time with people who use drugs or alcohol (26% vs. 9%).
Empowering through Education
Though these statistics may seem overwhelming, there is hope. Through research-based education and activities, adults can help children gain more knowledge and build more skills than ever to feel safe and secure.
Eight Tips to Help Girls Stay Safe