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It’s time for honest talk about sexual abuse

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The children and teens of today are our hope for tomorrow.

It’s important for us as parents, caring adults and communities to help set young people on the path for a healthy future and support them as they work to create positive change. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this year’s campaign is focused on youths.

This April, it’s time to talk about it. Your voice. Our future. The Prevent Sexual Violence campaign encourages individuals and communities to support healthy sexual development.

Young people face many challenges during adolescence. Stereotypes and negative messages in the media don’t make this process easy.

By learning and talking about healthy adolescent sexuality, adults are able to support the teens in their lives. It’s time for adults and communities to be a resource to teens so they learn and grow.

How can we support teens during this time of change and discovery? Young people need age-appropriate information about healthy sexuality and relationships from trusted adults.

The first step is to start an open and honest dialogue. Ask questions and, most importantly, listen. We can all play a role in modeling healthy behaviors, promoting positive skills and creating safe environments. It’s important to empower the voices of youths and challenge negative, unhealthy messages.

It’s OK if you don’t have all the answers. It’s more important to welcome questions and learn together. To create a vision for a future without sexual violence, every voice can play a role in a healthier, safer tomorrow for all.

You can use your voice to start the conversation. You can support the voices of young people, and together we can amplify our voices for a healthy future. It’s time to talk about it.

Ilene J. Burke

Canton

The writer is executive director of the St. Lawrence Valley Renewal House.

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