• Joan Dominguez

Sexual Abuse Through the Eyes of the Media

Whether it’s turning on the TV, logging into social media, reading a newspaper, or receiving a newsletter in your inbox - we all consume news every day through the media.

We are constantly bombarded with notifications of breaking news and offered an overwhelming amount of platforms to access and share information. Media coverage of sexual abuse greatly impacts education, attitudes and beliefs regarding this critical epidemic that affects as many as 500,000 children in our nation each year. Social media has also become a force to be reckoned with through its power of inciting social justice movements through one viral post regarding sexual abuse and by connecting fellow survivors to know they are heard and not alone. The way in which cases, statistics and information are portrayed can also play a major role in promoting prevention or enabling further abuse.

When seeking reliable information on sexual abuse, use the following tips to navigate through the vast media realm:

Follow or tune in to reliable news sources.

To determine whether you are entrusting your engagement with a reliable source, it’s important to be aware of potential bias and misinformation that exists in news coverage. Credibility is reduced if the page or show is commonly known for using click-bait or promoting conspiracy theories. Misinformation can easily be identified if the content does not provide citations or references for statistics and facts. Take the time to research your sources before you consume or share news.

Fact check information from several sources.

Myths about sexual abuse can be easily disseminated through a simple share of a post or article. Use fact-checking websites to determine if the statistics provided are supported by research or other credible sources. If you see multiple sites with different statistics or big number gaps in their impact figures, that is a warning sign that the source is not providing information backed by verifiable evidence.

Remember that the majority of sexual abuse and sexual assault cases are never reported. According to RAINN, “Only 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 3 out of 4 go unreported.” (Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2010-2016 (2017)).

This means that regardless of how much media coverage occurs and how much information we gather about these issues, we are receiving an incomplete picture of the true scope of this epidemic.

If you’re looking for an additional source of credible information about sexual abuse - our website, prevention workshops, blogs, and social media contains factually correct and relevant statistics, information and advice. Trees of Hope ensures that our content provides reliable information so that parents, caregivers and anyone who wants to protect the vulnerable can learn appropriate and practical knowledge so we can work together towards eliminating sexual abuse.

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