Darkness to Light is the leading child sexual abuse prevention organization in the United States. We empower adults to help prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
Our communications team works with news media and digital partners to raise awareness of the prevalence of child sexual abuse, to help reduce stigma, elevate survivor’s voices, and to ensure stories are reported in a sensitive and accurate way. If you are a reporter covering the issue, please reach out to us at media@D2L.org.
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Recommendations for Reporting on Child Sexual Abuse
Educating the public about child sexual abuse and its impact on individuals and communities is the key to prevention. We have assembled the following recommendations for covering child sexual abuse to educate, change misconceptions, destigmatize, and avoid misinformation or sensationalism.
POSITIVE STEPS TO TAKE
- Offer resources for victims as well as prevention education in the story.
- Do inform the audience without sensationalizing the event (e.g. “Local Teacher Arrested on Suspicions of Sexually Abusing Student”)
- Do use the most precise and accurate language that is appropriate to the allegation. (e.g. “Teacher Allegedly Raped Student”)
- Do push for solutions. Reach out to experts in your community.
- Do understand that new stories involving children deserve special consideration.
THINGS TO AVOID
- Don’t blame the victim or exonerate the perpetrator. (e.g. “Sources State Girl Enjoys Relationship with Older Man”)
- Don’t use sensational headlines. (e.g. “Local Teacher Arrested for Frolicking with Young Girl”)
- Don’t use vague or imprecise language. (e.g. “Student and Teacher were in a Long-Term Relationship”)
- Don’t re-traumatize children and families by pushing for interviews or asking intrusive questions.
- Download our full recommendations here.
- One in 10 children will be sexually abused before age 18.*
- There are 42 million sexual abuse survivors in the United States – how you report and cover stories may affect them.
- Know that child sexual abuse happens daily and often in low-profile settings.
- Know that 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser and perpetrators often groom victims and their families.*
- Only 4-8% of child sexual abuse reports are fabricated.*
IN YOUR NEWSFEED
As the national conversation around sexual abuse grows, with our partners, we pledge to continue to elevate the national dialogue around child sexual abuse and invite you to join us.