Attorney General Sean Reyes, DCFS Director Brent Platt and Local Survivors Challenge Utah Citizens to be One With Courage when faced with Child Sexual Abuse
Sandy, UT (April 28, 2014) — The Utah Attorney General’s Children’s Justice Center (CJC) Program has teamed with Utah’s Department of Human Services Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) and local survivors to launch One With Courage Utah. Attorney General Sean Reyes introduced the campaign at the Megaplex Theatres at Jordan Commons in Sandy this morning. DCFS Director Brent Platt introduced local survivors and their public service announcement (PSA) messages including Deondra and Desirae Brown of The 5 Browns, followed by a presentation by the Parent Advisory Council. The program concluded with a moving musical performance by the Brown sisters. Those involved challenged all, no matter individual circumstances, to be One with Courage when it comes to talking about child sexual abuse.
One With Courage Utah is a local campaign created in correlation with a national initiative to raise awareness about child sexual abuse while highlighting the unique role of Children’s Justice Centers in bringing partner agencies together and providing services. Courage is necessary for child victims to come forward and for adults to start a dialogue, learn the signs, and report abuse when it is suspected. DCFS Director Brent Platt urged the public to get involved by saying, “Today we are giving you a lot of facts and information about child sexual abuse and the One With Courage Utah campaign in hopes that you will take action – by using our hashtag #onewithcourageutah on social media, by sharing our PSAs on every platform, by visiting our website at onewithcourageutah.org, and most importantly by sharing One With Courage with just ONE other person.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18. Perpetrators often consist of family members, friends, and acquaintances. It is estimated that over 90 percent of child sexual assault victims know their perpetrators, and most of these children do not disclose abuse until adulthood, if ever at all.
The Attorney General’s Office houses and administers the Utah Children’s Justice Center (CJC) Program, dedicated to helping local communities respond to allegations of child abuse in ways that are effective, efficient, and that minimize trauma for the child. Each of the 22 centers in Utah is a child-focused, facility-based program in which representatives from law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical services, and victim advocacy work together to conduct interviews and make team decisions about investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse cases. Children’s Justice Centers handle approximately 5,500 cases and serve more than 13,000 people annually. Of all the cases that come to the CJCs, almost 80 percent involve sexual abuse.
“We are honored to team with our state’s Division of Child and Family Services and extremely brave local survivors to launch One With Courage Utah. This initiative asks each of us, no matter our situation, to have courage,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Child sexual abuse is a crime of silence that thrives because not only the perpetrator, but often times the victim, and even the victim’s loved ones, do not want to share their dark secrets. It is time for all of us to be One With Courage.”
The Utah Attorney General’s Office also has 36 Child Protection Division assistant attorneys general and the necessary staff to work with DCFS to ensure safe living environments for children, while also respecting parental and family rights. In addition, the office administers the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) to investigate and prosecute those who use the Internet to exploit children and the SECURE Strike Force to investigate and prosecute human trafficking threats that often times include children.