Child abuse is a detrimental aspect of humanity, permeating all social, cultural and gender related boundaries. There is no one group of people that is less susceptible than another to this destructive act that affects an alarmingly large percentage of the population, although poverty tends to increase the incidences greatly.
Yes ICAN, an acronym for International Child Abuse Network, is a site dedicated to bringing awareness to this abuse. Their simple mission statement, "Working worldwide to break the cycle of abuse" indicates the depth of this commitment. The website has sobering definitions, articles and statistics in the 'Reality of Abuse' section, with links to articles about high profile child abuse cases, global child abuse statistics, and clear, concise explanations of what child abuse and domestic violence is. The goal of this information is to bring awareness to the public, empowering people with enough knowledge to know when to report suspected abuse.
Under the link 'Child abuse simply stated", the four main forms of abuse are listed as physical, emotional, sexual and neglect, each followed by general examples of what constitutes abuse under those categories. While some of the examples seem obvious, such as for the physical and sexual abuse, the emotional abuse may not be as easily recognizable as abusive. Constant disapproval, belittling and teasing of a child will have life long effects on that child, even though many parents and caregivers are not aware of this. By bringing this information to the surface, Yes ICAN is able to educate the public in hopes of protecting children.
Another fact brought to the surface is that abused children often end up in abusive relationships as adults. The link defining domestic violence is thorough and informative, explaining in depth what domestic violence is, debunks myths about domestic violence, details the behavior of an abuser, offers solutions, and provides hot line numbers for victims to call. There is even a link for someone who suspects domestic violence, so they know what to do to help. More importantly, there is an itemized list of things a victim can do, called a safety plan, to help keep them safe both during and after being in a violent relationship.
The art gallery, memorial and 'Art By Jonathan' links are under the 'Inspirations' tab, and show poetry submitted by survivors of abuse, artwork, and a list honoring and remembering some of the young children who died at the hands of abusers. The dedication to these children is touching and heartfelt. This particular page is accompanied by music that is poignant and moving, as well as quotes and poetry celebrating all children.
The 'News And Events' section lists current child abuse cases in the news, as well as a description of World Day, commemorated every November 19th, and organized by the Women's World Summit Foundation. The 'News and Events' section gets down to the gritty, explaining some of the numerous ways Yes ICAN is working to help prevent child abuse through collaboration with various agencies, treaties and coalitions worldwide, such as the Non Governmental Organization (NGO) Coalition and the Convention on the Rights of the Child treaty. Listed also are ways anyone can get involved to help in the prevention of child abuse.
Even with all this educational and eye-opening information so far listed, the most standout feature on this site is under the 'Support' section, most notably the 'Facilitated Chat.' In addition to a library of books on child abuse through Amazon.com, links to organizations relevant to ending child abuse, hot lines, student and researcher info, and a bulletin board where questions are answered by moderators, the 'Facilitated Chat' is a chat room support group with facilitators that will discuss any abuse topic in a safe, anonymous arena. The focus in these groups is safety and the healing process, while normalizing feelings and behaviors associated with abuse. The facilitators are not present as therapists, but as crisis intervention specialists, and work to help survivors of abuse understand how child abuse has affected them and discuss ways to cope and heal safely and effectively.
Through a group process, many group members can find comfort in knowing that they are not alone, and gain personal empowerment by sharing their abuse with each other. Terms and behaviors are identified and explained by the facilitators, and there is an emphasis on finding therapy and other support in the survivors' lives. The facilitators listen and empathize in a caring way, allowing group members to feel heard, which is often a powerful experience. These chat groups are open to anyone worldwide. Each group has it's own suggested topic, and there is even a group in Spanish.
Yes ICAN is a nonprofit organization run by volunteers. The founder, Sue Meier, has a long list of accolades and an impressive resume. The board of directors is listed as well, along with the advisory board. This organization was founded in 1996.
The Yes ICAN website is easy to navigate and holds an immense wealth of information. It is highly recommended for anyone looking for support or wanting to learn about child abuse and prevention