Confronting child sex abuse in the Quad Cities

Child Abuse Council holds conference to pinpoint signs, help

MOLINE, Ill. - Hundreds of people in the Quad Cities came together Thursday to discuss how to keep kids safer when it comes to sex abuse. 

The Child Abuse Council held its 15th annual Children Exposed to Violence Conference. 

About 250 people showed up at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline. 

That includes teachers, first responders and court system workers. 

The council indicates that every 10 seconds, an American child experiences abuse and only between 3% to 13% of those kids actually report their trauma. 

That's where organizers say adults come in. 

They say the issue has renewed significance after the trial of convicted serial child molester Larry Nassar. 

Experts say the stories of survivors show many issues when it comes to child abuse, including adults not being able to spot the signs, or not believing the child when he or she speaks up. 

"It's an adult's responsibility to protect children, never a child's responsibility to protect themselves, so today is about how adults can protect children," says Angie Kendall, spokesperson for the Child Abuse Council. 

One man who works with Wilton schools says sex abuse is something all districts have to deal with, including his own. 

He says an important takeaway from today's event was learning how to identify and understand *sex offenders*. 

"The majority of people that are sex offenders were not offended as a child, but actually had sexual related behaviors with other children. I think that kind of changed my thinking," says Peter Duytschaever, a juvenile court school liaison with the Wilton Community School District

Organizers say more than 90% of all abuse happens at the hands of someone the child knows. 

Experts say the more adults know about the issue, the more they can do to help those survivors. 

Some tips discussed today include giving kids the words they need to talk about their abuse, and using things like yoga and meditation to help them cope with their trauma. 

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