“Who Do You Tell?”™ (“WDYT?”™)
Child sexual abuse safety and education program
A child sexual abuse program is vital for the health and safety of every community, and every person has a role to play in keeping our children safe.
Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA) has offered and owns the rights to the child sexual abuse safety program “Who Do You Tell?”™ (“WDYT?”™) since 1994. Using a three-pronged approach by educating children, parents, and teachers, the curriculum empowers adults and children to address the issues related to child sexual abuse in a safe, compassionate and energizing format. The program is delivered by trained professionals.
The “WDYT?”™ Program has been independently evaluated, reviewed, updated and adheres to best practices. “WDYT?”™ has been found to be an effective program in helping to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse and its effect on victims and families.
Why do we need a child sexual abuse program?
The Report of the Committee on Sexual Offences Against Children and Youth indicates that in Canada 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of eighteen .
In 2012, police services across Canada received approximately 14,000 reports of sexual offenses against children and youth – which represents over half (55%) of all reported sexual offenses . In studied that rely on self-reporting, actual instances of childhood Sexual Abuse are found to be much higher than what are reported to police  since many children never disclose their abuse. This could be because 88% of sexual abusers are known and trusted by the children who are victimized .
Impact of child sexual abuse
As with any childhood trauma, child sexual abuse can have both immediate and long lasting negative impacts [3,4,9]. Some of the symptoms that may manifest themselves in childhood, or later in adolescence or adult life may include[5,8,9]:
- suicidal feelings/actions
- engagement in high risk behaviours
- feelings of guilt
- difficulties with anger
- fears and anxiety
- concentration and learning difficulties
- self-harming behaviours
- eating disorders
- substance abuse
- low self-esteem
- lack of belief in a just world
- distrust of others
- significant relationship difficulties
Children who experience sexual Abuse are significantly more likely than children who experience other types of trauma to present symptoms in the areas of post-traumatic stress and disassociation .This is clearly a life altering experience for children with consequences that continue into adulthood, especially when children do not feel safe to disclose the abuse or do not receive appropriate support from those they do tell [6,7].
How the “Who Do You Tell?”™ Program helps
“Who Do You Tell?”™ teaches children:
- To understand that child sexual abuse is any inappropriate touching or viewing of the private parts of a child’s body by an older person, or when an older person has a child look at or touch their private parts.
- What the private parts of the body are and age appropriate terminology
- That they have the right to respond assertively against any sexually abusive behaviour
- That child sexual abuse is never the child’s fault
- Be able to name adults they can tell if they feel uncomfortable, threatened or if they have been abused
“Who Do You Tell?”™ teaches adults:
- Information about childhood sexual abuse including potential indicators and what to watch out for
- How to talk to children about sexual abuse and keep the conversation going at home and in the classroom
- How to respond to children’s’ disclosures of sexual abuse
- Next steps
Preventing and responding to child sexual abuse is all of our responsibility. It is important that both children, and the adults who care for children,know what to do if someone chooses to use sexually abusive behavior. Parents are encouraged to be the primary educators for their children beginning at an early age and to continue to keep the conversation open with their children so that children know that they are safe and supportive people who they can talk to about child sexual abuse. Education and information empowers individuals to take action in response to child sexual abuse.
For more information about “Who Do You Tell?”™ Program or to arrange a presentation for your school or children’s group, please email WDYT1@calgarycasa.com or call 403-237-5888.
“We were very happy with the “Who Do You Tell”™ Program. The presenters were very professional, patient and caring. The presented the material in a factual, accessible and sensitive manner for students, parents and staff. They took the time to get to know our students and were very easy to work with. I would highly recommend this important program to any school.” – Dan Dornan (Principal) at Collingwood School, 2019
“We had the “Who Do You Tell?™ program in our kindergarten-grade 6 school in the fall of 2018 to address staff requests to have a better understanding on how to address child sexual abuse issues and to empower and protect children. Staff were trained on the program during a fall PD day and agreed that although unnerving, the content was informative and delivered in a professional and compassionate manner. Many teachers noted that it was among one of the most useful and informative PD days they had attended in a while. Parents had many questions about the program and appreciated the parent info night, offered after school. The facilitators were warm and friendly, and fun to have around. Students and staff missed having them in the school when the program was over! As an administrator, I appreciated the educators approachability, professionalism, and support in addressing a very important topic that I was not equipped to do myself. Protecting our littlest ones is so important to our staff and parents and from the bottom of our hearts we thank your team for equipping us with this education. It is without a doubt that I would have the “Who Do You Tell?™ program in my schools again.” – Calgary Catholic Elementary School, 2018
“It has been a huge privilege to have the “Who Do You Tell?™ Program at our school twice. The Educators have been incredibly professional, compassionate and thorough in their lessons and follow-up with the children. Additionally they provided us with excellent parent and teacher professional development around the topic of sexual abuse. Our parents expressed gratitude for the valuable tools the “Who Do You Tell?”™ Educators provided on how to identify signs of sexual abuse and how to speak to children about this sensitive issue. Our teachers were grateful for the professional, in-class lessons which taught their students how to respect their bodies, and how to tell a trusted adult if their bodies were mistreated. Since the program has come to our school we have seen a change in our culture around respecting personal boundaries. Our students have embraced a new vocabulary for articulating their boundaries and they have learned how to respectfully communicate their needs. Thank you “Who Do You Tell?”™ Educators! We look forward to having you back at our school!” – Lara Melashenko (Principal) at Chinook Winds Adventist Academy, 2017
Licensing within Alberta
Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA) Society is the author and owner of the “Who Do You Tell?”™ child sexual abuse safety and education program. CCASA Society licenses the rights to use its “Who Do You Tell?”™ program to elementary school aged children, their teachers and parents.
For information on requirements and costs to become a licensed facilitator of the “Who Do You Tell?”™ Program please contact CCASA at WDYT1@calgarycasa.com or call 403-237-5888.
- Canada Committee on Sexual Offences Against Children and Youths, & Badgley, R. F. (1984). Sexual offences against children. Minister of Supply and Services Canada. Retrieved 06/07/2019 from: http://publications.gc.ca/site/eng/9.840126/publication.html
- Collin-Vézina, D., Daigneault, I., & Hébert, M. (2013). Lessons learned from child sexual abuse research: Prevalence, outcomes, and preventive strategies. Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health, 7(1), 22.
- Cotter, A., & Beaupré, P. (2014). Police-reported sexual offences against children and youth in Canada, 2012. Juristat: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, 1. . Retrieved 06/05/2019 from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2014001/article/14008-eng.htm#r4
- Dube, S.R., Anda, R.F., Whitfield, C.L., Brown, D.W., Felitti, V.J., Dong, M., & Giles, W.H. (2005). Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 28(5), 430-438.
- Herman, J. L., & Harvey, M. R. (1997). Adult memories of childhood trauma: A naturalistic clinical study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 10(4), 557-571.
- Lawson, L., & Chaffin, M. (1992). False negatives in sexual abuse disclosure interviews: Incidence and influence of caretaker’s belief in abuse in cases of accidental abuse discovery by diagnosis of STD. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 7(4), 532-542.
- Lovett, B. B. (2004). Child sexual abuse disclosure: Maternal response and other variables impacting the victim. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 21(4), 355-371.
- Neumann, D. A., Houskamp, B. M., Pollock, V. E., & Briere, J. (1996). The long-term sequelae of childhood sexual abuse in women: A meta-analytic review. Child maltreatment, 1(1), 6-16.
- Norman, R. E., Byambaa, M., De, R., Butchart, A., Scott, J., & Vos, T. (2012). The long-term health consequences of child physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS medicine, 9(11), e1001349.