After Recent Reports, Tips on Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

By  | 

On Friday morning Hall County prosecutors charged 32-year-old Lawrence Harjo with first degree sexual assault. The Doniphan man is accused of sexually assaulting his girlfriend's six-year-old daughter.

The case is the latest in a number of sexual assaults on minors that have been reported in Hall County in recent months.

"You hope when you get a case like this that it isn't true. You hope that for the sake of the child, and you investigate it to the best of your availability," said Officer Butch Hurst of the Grand Island Police Department.

Statistics show one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before they turn 18.

"Stranger danger," that's what most kids are taught about personal safety, but experts say, most predators in child sexual assault cases are individuals the victim already knows.

"It's generally somebody that the family knows, somebody that has an opportunity to be alone with the child," said Ginger Velander, Executive Director of the Central Nebraska Child Advocacy Center.

Child advocates say preventing sexual abuse requires education for both parents and children.

"Minimize the opportunities, stay alert, make sure and educate your child, that they know the body parts, they know the boundaries that are appropriate," Velander said.

If abuse does happen, researchers say it's important to know that the signs of abuse aren't always obvious.

"It really varies with the child. Each child is going to react differently. So I think if a parent notices some behavior that's not normal in their child, all of a sudden they're acting differently, that's when they need to investigate," Velander explained.

Experts say those who suspect abuse should report their suspicions to authorities, because many predators have multiple victims.