"One With Courage" Program Fights Child Sexual Abuse - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

"One With Courage" Program Fights Child Sexual Abuse

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"One With Courage" is a statewide initiative by the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network. In Wheeling and Belmont County, Harmony House is part of that program. It refers to the adults in a child's life.

"For so long, we've wanted children to be courageous and come forth and tell," says Leslie Vassilaros, executive director of Harmony House. "Now we're asking adults to be courageous. So One With Courage is basically saying, are you the one with courage."

It's aimed at parents, grandparents, teachers, neighbors, scout leaders or coaches.

They are asked to have the courage to step forward if they suspect a child is being sexually abused.

The signs include a child regressing in behavior.

"Some children may already be potty trained and now they're starting to soil their pants," explained Vassilaros. "Sometimes in school, children that got good grades are now getting poor grades. Sometimes children can't sleep at night so they're falling asleep during the day or in school. Maybe there is a relative that the child used to be very close to and now the child tends to hide from that person."

The child can visit Harmony House, and have a forensic interview with a trained, non-judgmental expert.

"And if the child does have a disclosure, we will then provide intervention--medical exams, mental health, whatever else the child might need," she said.

And if you don't think it could happen to a child close to you, consider this.

One out of every four girls, and one out of every six boys is sexually abused.]

And only one out of every ten ever tells anyone.