SAN ANTONIO – A conversation about the birds and the bees can be uncomfortable for parents and kids alike, but experts say it's a necessary step to prevent harm.
Beginning Friday afternoon on March 6, ChildSafe will distribute Cardboard Kids across Bexar County to help take off pressure and empower families to talk about child abuse before it’s too late.
According to ChildSafe's director of prevention and community awareness, Kayla Bailey, child abuse is a prominent crime that knows no gender, no economic background or race.
"A lot of child sexual abuse happens in secret," Bailey said. "It happens in a scenario where a child doesn't feel like they can either tell somebody what's happening or they can say no to the person who is performing the act."
There will be two distribution weekends including March 6-7 and March 13-14 at the following locations: Ingram Park Mall, Rolling Oaks Mall, United Way of Bexar County, UTSA - Main Campus and YMCA Tri-Point. Friday distributions will be from 1 to 6 p.m. followed by Saturday distributions from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Anyone is invited to join the effort by picking up a free Cardboard Kid and decorate it in-time for the community-wide reveal day on April 2.
The activity goes beyond the art supplies and is designed to help kids of any age understand what their bodies do and who can or cannot touch their body parts.
“There is no too young,” Bailey said. “So, when we are teaching our children about their body parts: head, shoulders, knees and toes, we should also be teaching them about all of the body parts (in between).”
Experts say teaching kids the anatomically correct names is key to avoid confusion when the child gains the courage to make an outcry.
"Only 1 in 10 children ever make it out of sexual abuse," Bailey said. "Within our community last year in 2019, we had 5,373 confirmed cases (of child abuse)."
Bailey explained that if the statistic stands true, that many cases remain silenced in fear. Parents can help their child build courage to identify and express their feelings by pointing identifying those, other than the parents, that are safe as well as who can touch them and how.
"Sometimes we have good touches like, when (someone gives) you a hug, that may be a good touch," Bailey said. "Sometimes there are bad touches where somebody hits us and that hurts. So, while decorating is fun, and I love seeing all of the cute Cardboard Kids, I really, really want to challenge parents and teachers to have these conversations while they're decorating and don't just make it an art activity."
More tips can be found on the CardBoard Kids website including greeting alternatives, unhealthy secrets, and how to respond if a child reports abuse or neglect. For more on the ChildSafe, click here or call (210) 675-9000.
If you suspect sexual abuse has happened please call: Texas Abuse Hotline: 1-800-252-5400.