The most recent web conference, “Healthy Sexuality and Caring Connections: Foundations for Prevention” featured Rev. Debra Haffner of the Religious Institute and therapist Geraldine Crisci. Both Debra and Geraldine are published and passionate advocates for promoting an accurate understanding of sexual development and healthy relationships. Speaking to an audience of those interested in child sexual abuse prevention, they emphasized the importance of starting with healthy sexuality.
Geraldine emphasized sex education as a tool in preventing child sexual abuse. She noted that that the highest risk factor for sexual abuse is age, and emphasized the need to discuss healthy sexuality at an early age. Geraldine went on to offer an overview of the benefits of secure attachment in infants, toddlers, and children. She emphasized the importance of building respectful and trusting relationships early in children’s development. Building on this overview, Debra focused her presentation on healthy sexual development in adolescents. She emphasized the importance of making moral and ethical decisions about sexual relationships during adolescence, noting that sexual health education is the foundation for healthy relationships.
Both speakers identified the need for parents and professionals to understand age-appropriate sexual behaviors. They also challenged all of us working to end child sexual abuse to think about the intersection of sex education and seize opportunities to bring this conversation into all of our discussions about child sexual abuse prevention.