Circles of Safety©

Sweet Water Foundation is pleased to have partnered with StopItNow!, to present a series of trainings on child sex abuse prevention, in campus settings.

stop-it-nowSince 1992 StopItNow! ( a US based non-profit, has been preventing the sexual abuse of children. Their central focus is on working with adults to strengthen their capacities for taking responsibility to protect the children in their communities.

Let’s be clear. Almost all adults are convinced they would speak up and intervene if they became aware of a child at risk of being sexually abused. But research and the experience of many survivors of sexual abuse demonstrate that more often than not, adults don’t speak up.Why? Because we all want to view people that we know as “good”, and to believe naively that we’ll recognize the “bad” ones.


One of the greatest barriers to preventing childhood sexual abuse is this either/or thinking. When any of us has to choose between two extremes of saint or devil, we’re generally reluctant to re-categorize someone we respect into the negative category without absolute proof. But research shows that most people who sexually abuse children are complicated individuals with good qualities as well as a horribly destructive problem. They are not solely manipulative monsters.

To be safe, kids need the adults in their lives to embrace that complex reality”. StopItNow! 

The preventive approach obviously includes not waiting for abuse to occur and then reacting to it, but being alert and responding to troubling behaviors in advance. For example, it is not necessary to assume that “troubling behaviors” are a result of evil personalities or bad intentions. But it is necessary to recognize when adults violate the interpersonal boundaries of children and dangerous precedents are perhaps inadvertently set.

StopItNow! will work with Sweet Water, and with leaders of youth-serving organizations in Grenada, to integrate CSA prevention into their settings. 

“For 21 years, in conversations with all of those impacted by CSA, the professionals who serve them, researchers, community and organization leaders, we know this can be a complex social problem to tackle. But we have the tools and resources needed and they are not complicated to use. The necessary ingredient is that all institutions and organizations serving young people and children recognize they need these tools”. StopItNow!

Circles of Safety© begins with a 2-day training, but it doesn’t stop there and go away. The program continues with monthly online coaching sessions, and opportunity for one-on-one consultations to support trainees. The entire program has a duration of one year. In this way, capacity continues to be built within communities in a sustainable and long-term way.

“For too long the conversation on child sexual victimization has focused primarily on what can be done after abuse has occurred. These are the stories the media prefer to report. These are the stories on everyone’s mind. We at Stop It Now! propose changing the conversation by looking ahead not backward, by being proactive rather than waiting for the next breaking story of abuse on a college campus. Consider with me how we can move the conversation away from one about our failures to protect children to what can be done to safeguard children and youth”.

This program is scheduled to begin in Grenada in January, 2015. To get involved, contact Sweet Water Foundation.


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The White House Anti-Sexual Assault Video