Columbia elementary school counselors met with parents Tuesday evening in hopes of combating child abuse.As ABC 17 News reported Monday night, new statistics show serious cases of child abuse are on the rise.At the meeting, many parents said they were supportive of teaching their kids about child abuse, a problem that counselors say happens even at schools in Columbia. Parents and teachers took part in a child abuse preventative program that Columbia Public School counselor Susan Perkins believes works.”Every year we have kids that come forward and reveal something that has happened to them,” said Perkins.Perkins says children need to be aware, which means they need to be taught how to handle situations.”We teach them the ‘rule of three,'” said Perkins. “Say no, get away , tell a trusted adult. If they are touched in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, that varies from a student that is similar age to a student that’s a little bit older or someone a lot olde.”Parents who attended the program were in support of the effort to teach children about the signs of abuse.”My daughter’s in second grade, they’re very age appropriate,” said Jeanne Link. “So the things they are teaching are not above the level that they are, so it gives them info so they can protect themselves a little better.”Counselors say startling data prompted the annual awareness program. According to statistics, more than 20 percent of children are sexually abused before eight years of age and the median age for sexual abuse is nine-years-old. Also, counselors say most child victims never report the abuse.Perkins says schools are legally required to report child abuse to the abuse and neglect hotline for the state. After that, the state takes over the investigation.
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