By: Toby Stark, Chaucie’s Place Executive Director
The first thing you need to know about Chaucie’s Place is what we do: Chaucie’s Place staff and volunteers work to prevent child sexual abuse and youth suicide with education and prevention programs for children, adults and school systems.
The second thing you need to know about Chaucie’s Place is why we do what we do…Chaucie's Place is named in honor of Chaucie Quillen, a child sexual abuse victim from Hamilton County. After eight years of sexual abuse by her biological father, her father's three-week trial, and a judicial outcome of probation, Chaucie – tragically – took her own life. The community was devastated and knew there had to be a better way – a different way – a way to make sure this didn’t happen again. Chaucie's Place was founded by the Hamilton County community in April 2001.
The last thing you need to know is why we still do what we do, nearly 15 years later…one in 10 children are sexually abused by their 18th birthday. That’s right…one in 10. The even sadder truth is that 90 percent of these children are abused by someone they know, love or trust.
Chaucie's Place believes in a comprehensive approach to ending child sexual abuse and youth suicide by targeting both children and adults with its prevention and education programs. We offer our prevention programs statewide, with an emphasis on central Indiana -- Hamilton, Marion, Boone, Tipton, Madison and Hancock counties.
Smart Steps: A Body Safety Program for Children© is designed to empower children to break the silence and cycle of sexual abuse. Smart Steps is offered to elementary school students, teaching them their bodies belong to them; say "NO!" to unwanted touches...from anyone; tell a trusted adult about uncomfortable touches they receive; and abuse is never their fault. More than 16,000 children participated in Smart Steps: A Body Safety Program for Children© during the 2013/2014 school year.
Stewards of Children®, a nationally recognized program, teaches parents and adults who work with children how to prevent, recognize and react appropriately to child sexual abuse. It empowers adults to overcome denial, fear and secrecy about this epidemic and allows them to create awareness and personal power. In the four years since the Chaucie's Place staff became authorized Stewards of Children facilitators, they have trained more than 2,500 adults, including swim coaches through Indiana Swimming, Inc.; Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation staff; Jewish Community Center's staff; Boys & Girls Club of Indiana staff; Indiana Bulls coaches; and Westfield Washington, Zionsville and Sheridan school district administrators and staff...just to name a few.
Children who have been sexually abused are seven times more likely to commit suicide. And Chaucie’s Place knows that correlation all too well. Because of these statistics and to meet an unmet need in the community, in 2013 Chaucie’s Place introduced Lifelines, a national evidence-based youth suicide prevention programming. Lifelines is a youth suicide prevention program targeting an entire school community. Its overall goal is to help recognize a student at potential risk of suicide and understand how and where to access help.
And finally, Aspire Indiana has opened an outpatient mental health clinic at Chaucie's Place, specifically for the treatment of survivors of child sexual abuse. Children, adolescents and adults are seen at the Chaucie's Place clinic. The clinic is staffed by a licensed mental health social worker who is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), a therapy model that is research-based and treats the trauma of child sexual abuse, rather than the manifestations of that trauma, like depression or anxiety.
This is what we do, but what can you do? If you would like to help protect the children in our community and support Chaucie’s Place’s efforts, you can:
- Learn more about Smart Steps: A Body Safety Program for Children© to see if it should be in your child’s elementary school;
- Attend or host a Stewards of Children, child sexual abuse prevention program;
- Attend our upcoming Friends of Chaucie’s Place Breakfast on April 22nd to learn more about Chaucie’s Place, the work we do, and how you too can be a part of the solution;
- Donate money or items on our wish list.
Please visit www.chauciesplace.org to learn more!