W&A PREVENTION PROGRAM
In an effort to raise awareness and reduce the occurrence of child sexual abuse in our community, Word and Action develops a culturally-based approach to sexual abuse prevention program called, “Strengthening the Family.” One in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexual abused by the time they reach 18 years of age. Therefore, we dedicate our efforts toward engaging members of our community to take action in order to protect children from sexual predators.
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program Outline
W&A’s program is comprised of three components: 1) community-wide outreach, to provide education and raise awareness about child sexual abuse in a culturally competent way to the Haitian and Haitian-American community in Miami-Dade County; 2) cultural competency trainings, specifically tailored to the needs of Haitian clients, to better equip clinicians and therapists who treat Haitian and Haitian-American clients in need of treatment for child sexual abuse; 3) culturally competent treatment for victims of child sexual abuse and their loved ones.
Furthermore, culture plays a very important role in the recovery of sexually-abused victims. For instance, a person’s ability to cope with sexual abuse may differ depending on his/her culture and environment. Further, parents’ behaviors and attitudes toward sexual abuse incidents may have significant impacts on the children’s recovery process.
Based on W&A’s observations and reports from numerous clinicians and health care professionals, in general, Haitian parents seem to have more difficulties dealing with sexual abuse. Sexual education seems to be less prominent within the Haitian culture, as well. Like in many cultures, sex is taboo and almost unspoken within the typical Haitian family. Because of the aforementioned, sexual incidents seem to be unreported, ignored, and totally repressed.
The complexity of the Haitian culture may prevent both children and their parents from openly dealing with sexual abuse, which may sometimes lead to re-victimization.
As previously mentioned, the Haitian community is underserved when it comes to social services. It is generally expected for clinicians and health care professionals to be culturally competent, in order to accurately diagnose and effectively treat clients of different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Thus, knowledge of the Haitian culture, mentality, and perception of topics such as that of sexual abuse, may help clinicians to accurately diagnose and effectively serve this particular demographic.
Because of the aforementioned, we have found it necessary to develop a curriculum/program that is culturally sensitive, in terms of strategies and approaches to sexual abuse: