“Child sexual abuse thrives on silence and shame. To keep kids safe, we must talk about it.” So begins a public service announcement (PSA) narrated by actress Ashley Judd in support of a new campaign from Committee for Children.

Video: Ashley Judd - Child Abuse Prevention PSA

In an effort to educate parents on their role in child sexual abuse prevention, Committee for Children, the global leader in research-based social-emotional learning education, launched the Hot Chocolate Talk campaign in conjunction with National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. The campaign is designed to get families talking about child sexual abuse, which research shows can protect children against future harm.

“One in four girls and one in 20 boys report experiencing childhood sexual abuse before the age of 18,” says Joan Cole Duffell, executive director at Committee for Children. “With the Hot Chocolate Talk, we aim to lower those statistics by encouraging families to have this important safety conversation in a warm, caring atmosphere.”

The campaign encourages families to have a talk about sexual abuse prevention in April, over a treat like a cup of hot chocolate. Normalizing the conversation, Duffell explains, draws the issue out of the shadows.

“It can be uncomfortable to talk to kids about sexual abuse,” she says. “With the Hot Chocolate Talk campaign, we’re providing step-by-step resources so parents will know how to start and what to say.”

Families who visit the Hot Chocolate Talk website will find a host of resources, including advice for initiating the talk, talking points based on the child’s age, and a downloadable guide with conversation starters and tips. These include framing the conversation as a safety talk (“We have rules for all parts of the body, and that includes your private parts.”) and using everyday moments as opportunities to review and remind.

The Hot Chocolate Talk website and conversation guide also feature the section, “What to Do If Your Child Tells You,” which offers advice for handling the conversation if a child discloses sexual abuse.

Along with the Ashley Judd PSA, the Hot Chocolate Talk site features videos offering information, advice, and resources for families who want to get these important conversations flowing.

“This is first and foremost a safety conversation,” Duffell says. “If we can break the taboo of talking about it, we’ll take away the offenders’ best defense: secrecy. The Hot Chocolate Talk is all about giving families the tools to protect kids from predators and ending the silence and shame that’s associated with this issue.”

The Hot Chocolate Talk resources are available now and can be viewed at HotChocolateTalk.org.

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