Dr. Pamela Pine is the founder of Stop the Silence, an organization whose purpose is to expose and stop child sexual abuse, as well as assist in the healing process for survivors.
Dr. Pine has a PhD in public health communication from the University of Maryland and has worked throughout the world on programs geared toward improving the lives of poor people.
As part of the effort to raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse, her organization hosts The Race to Stop the Silence, an 8K run (or walk).
This year the organization celebrates the race's tenth anniversary. The event will take place on April 14th in downtown Washington DC.
Dr. Pine was kind enough to shed light on this important issue and provide details on the upcoming race.
1. The numbers reported on the Stop the Silence website regarding the frequency of child sex abuse are rather staggering. Can you put the scope of the problem into perspective for our readers?
Dr. Pine: More than 1 out of 4 girls and about 1 out of 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18 in the U.S. and the numbers are similar to that in many parts of the world. That translates into an estimated (possibly an underestimated) 50 MILLION adult survivors of child sexual abuse (or CSA) in the U.S. alone. Most kids are abused by someone they know and who have regular access to them.
I know it’s hard to think or talk about but the reality is that it’s not only a horrible situation, it’s a major public health issue and it can be prevented and it can be treated – and we must. CSA often has pretty terrible consequences that include poor substantial negative mental health outcomes, school performance, teen pregnancy, prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and homicide, and chronic disease. And it costs this country billions of dollars every year.
But first we have to be willing to talk about it and deal with it. So, that’s why we started Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse, Inc. and the Race to Stop the Silence.
2. Please tell us about the organization, Stop the Silence, and how it works toward the goal of ending child sexual abuse.
Dr. Pine: It’s a long story but the long and short of it is that I’m an international public health specialist and I started reading and learning about CSA in 2000, and, given the numbers and consequences, couldn’t let it go. This was, of course, before the Catholic Church scandal hit the papers, and of course way before Penn State.
Now we know that it’s a problem that affects us all, but in 2000, all I had to think about was my own kids being abused and they became all kids, and I just had to do something. We got early support from Senator Barbara Mikulski and Health and Human Services, and foundation and other groups and individuals. We incorporated the organization in 2004.
The mission of Stop the Silence is to expose and stop child sexual abuse and help survivors heal worldwide. We focus on: Awareness through media and outreach and events like the Race so that people know what’s going on, and also our Art as Advocacy program that uses theater and film to open people up to understanding; Prevention by educating and training parents, communities, and service providers to understand the issue and to recognize signs and symptoms of it, as well as educating kids to know what to do if they’re afraid or approached in a way that makes them uncomfortable or is wrong so that we can stop it from happening altogether; and Healing for children and adult survivors – to help them know they’re not alone and help them find the help they need.
3. How does the upcoming Race to Stop the Silence support those efforts?
Dr. Pine: The Race helps us reach millions through the mass and social media – through efforts of good people like yourself – which lets us talk about the issue and what we do as a part of why the Race was created, like we’re doing here, and what we all need to do. And it also lets us reach out to many in other, various ways before the Race (through Twitter and Facebook and networking with others) and then at the Race itself. At the Race, we have fun, fun, fun (it’s an 8K race and walk, and kids’ fun run, and we have entertainment, and great prizes and food, etc., etc.), but we also provide information on the ground, very briefly during the ceremonies, and also through informational booths.
4. The race/walk looks like it is shaping up to be quite an event! Can you tell us a little bit more about the great people involved and the race day festivities?
Dr. Pine: Oh, gosh. There are so many wonderful people involved. Mark Moseley, famed former NFL and Redskins player, and also our national spokesperson, has been incredible! He has taken on this issue lock, stock and barrel, as they say. He is reaching out to his network and through media. And then there’s Jerry Olsen, the Director of the Washington Redskins Alumni Association. He has really put the name and weight of the organization behind what we are doing. Stop the Silence is their primary charity for 2013 and so we’ll be benefitting from their upcoming 34 Annual Charity Golf Classic at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA. It’s going to be great! Every team gets to play with a ‘Skin great! And it’s a great way again to have fun and support our work. Then, of course, I need to mention all the wonderful people who help put this event together, like Jeff Ruday, who is managing the event logistics, and our sponsors like Birdees, Inc., and Akire Multisport, and IGA Financial and many others. And we have entertainers, like Niqqi, who is donating her time and talent. And so many, many more!
5. If someone cannot attend the event, is there a way he/she can still support the cause?
Dr. Pine: Absolutely! Besides the Race and the Golf Tournament, the easiest way for people to donate to the cause is through our website and go to the Donate tab on top. There are lots of traditional and new ways to donate safely and securely there. People can also volunteer with us – and there’s a Get Involved tab on the website for that!
For more details on the race, including public transportation information and links for race registration, visit our Race to Stop the Silence event listing.