In Spalding County, the direct and immediate cost of child sexual abuse is $698,536 per year, while the long-term cost and losses caused by child sexual abuse are more than $7.1 million annually.
“Who pays for that? You do, as the taxpayer,” said Krista Gonce, the West Georgia regional prevention coordinator for the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, who spoke about the issue to the Kiwanis Club of Griffin Wednesday.
Aside from showing the effects of child sexual abuse, Gonce also introduced the primary tool for preventing it.
Stewards of Children, created by the nonprofit organization Darkness to Light, is the only adult-focused program shown to change the protective behaviors of adults, she said.
The program covers the types of situations in which child sexual abuse might occur and points out simple and effective strategies for protecting children from abuse, among other things.
As a result, Gonce said, Stewards of Children increases awareness of the prevalence, consequences and circumstances of child sexual abuse while also offering new skills for adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to it.
The next local training for the Stewards of Children program is offered on April 1 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Spalding County Health Department. The cost per person is $15.
“The money saved by preventing just one substantiated case of child sexual abuse would pay for prevention training for 956 adults,” said Gonce, adding that such training would result in 9,560 children better protected from abuse.