Less than half of parents in Colorado aren’t doing this one thing that could protect their children from experiencing sexual abuse.

Less than half of parents in Colorado aren’t doing this one thing that could protect their children from experiencing sexual abuse.

“Today on 9news Mornings, we tackled a tough topic– one that makes many parents– and kids– uncomfortable yet one that desperately needs to be talked about: child sexual abuse,” said 9news anchor Corey Rose in her post in the 9news It Takes a Village Facebook Group following the story talking with Illuminate Colorado and a brave parent who volunteered to speak from experience to help prevent child sexual abuse. The It Takes a Village regular segments focus on news important for people parenting in Colorado. It is estimated that one in ten children will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen and up to 70% of children do not report it in the first year.  


Deborah Freedman, a single mother of three girls, volunteered to talk with 9news about how she first learned about the importance of talking child sexual abuse prevention at home. “When my kids were in preschool, the preschool brought in a parent educator, [I] learned to just prevent sexual assult, calling body parts by their real names made a huge difference,” Freedman said.     

Awareness Makes a Difference

“We know that using anatomically correct terms is a protective factor. It protects children against child sexual abuse,” said Anne Auld director of education for Illuminate Colorado. When parents were informed of this fact as part of a public opinion survey conducted by Illuminate it made a big difference resulting in 71% of parents were willing to use anatomically correct language once they learned it was protective. According to the Illuminate study providing insight and recommendations for preventing child sexual abuse in Colorado, less than half of parents in Colorado (47%) say they typically use anatomically correct terms. 

Let's Talk Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

This one change can make a world of difference for several reasons: 

  • The language we use at the earliest of ages promotes positive body image, self-confidence and parent-child communication, all important factors to preventing child sexual abuse. 
  • The use of anatomically correct terms also discourages offenders.
  • In the event of abuse, anatomically correct terms help children and adults navigate the disclosure and forensic interview process. 

“If there is a child that is talking about something that happened, we may not understand exactly what they are talking about. This is my knee. This is my elbow. If I am using other words instead of knee and elbow, why? Is there something shameful about these body parts?” said Auld during the interview with 9news. 

“There are things that we can do, like using anatomically correct language, which feels uncomfortable at first, but the more times you say penis and vagina the less interesting those words become, just like knee and elbow. If we can get used to saying those words, if we can overcome our fears, and our this just feels weird feelings, we are enabling generations after us to have less risk in their lives around abuse,” continued Auld. 

It’s an important time of year to be thinking about protecting your kids from sexual abuse, given that that many families are coming together to celebrate the holidays. It is those in a position of trust that most often victimize children – 90% of children who experience sexual abuse know their abuser, 40% of those children are abuse by another youth. 

Resources to support prevention and healing from sexual abuse:

Tip Colorado

More than 80 local authorized facilitators throughout Colorado are working to empower adults to protect children in every community in Colorado from experiencing child sexual abuse through the Tip Colorado Initiative launched in 2020. If enough adults in a community, including parents, take a FREE two-hour interactive online training offered weekly then, together, we can reach a tipping point in Colorado where children grow up happy, healthy and safe in communities that prevent children from experiencing sexual abuse. Visit TipColorado.org to sign up to be a part of reaching a tipping point to create new standards of child safety in your community.

New Research Provides Insight and Recommendations for Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

Creating a Colorado Where Children Grow Up Free From Sexual Abuse: An Issue Brief on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse in Colorado examines data and trends related to child sexual abuse in Colorado, highlights efforts to prevent this trauma and presents recommendations to advance prevention statewide. Download the issue brief

Healing For Survivors

If you are looking for a network of supporters to aid in your healing process, WINGS supports adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to live their fullest, healthiest lives as they speak about, heal from, and thrive beyond CSA trauma. Visit www.wingsfound.org to find therapeutic support and connect to other survivors. 

Report a Concern

If you are concerned that a child is experiencing sexual abuse, call 844-CO-4-Kids (844‑264‑5437)

Available 24 hours a day, every day. Don’t hesitate to call and get help.

Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.

NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series

NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series

“We regularly hear from our colleagues that they recognize the importance of taking a trauma-informed approach to patient care, but very few have had the opportunity to receive formal training on trauma-informed care and communication,” said Dr. Laurie Halmo, pediatrician and toxicologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and co-chair of the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee work group focused on expanding healthcare provider education resources related to substance use and pregnancy with an emphasis on family leadership and addressing implicit bias. 

Designed by Healthcare Providers, for Healthcare Providers

Now, thanks to Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee Provider Education Work Group and the Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative, a NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Educational Series designed by healthcare providers, for healthcare providers, is available beginning next Monday. Each session grounded in the perspective of someone with lived experience related to substance use and pregnancy underscores just why this topic is so important.

Anyone who interacts with perinatal patients and their families in a clinical setting, from gynecologists, obstetricians, neonatologists, and pediatricians, to mental/behavioral healthcare providers and social workers, are encouraged to attend. Clinical professionals will walk away with the knowledge and tools to care for individuals in the perinatal period and those who are impacted by substance use in a trauma-informed way that leads to better experiences and outcomes for all. 

NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series 

The educational series includes:


an overview of the impact of trauma on women’s health, mental health, substance use, and experiences with obstetrical care


effective trauma-related screening questions and practical provider and team approaches to improve communication and trauma-informed care in obstetrical settings


practical tools for recognizing and reducing stigma and bias in interactions with patients


practical tools for optimizing brief clinical interactions with individuals impacted by perinatal substance use in a trauma-informed, non-stigmatizing way, including motivational interviewing, attending skills, and the LEAP (Listen, Empathize, Agree, Partner) approach

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Illuminate Colorado Is Hiring an Evaluation & Strategic Learning Associate (POSITION FILLED)

Illuminate Colorado Is Hiring an Evaluation & Strategic Learning Associate (POSITION FILLED)

We are excited to announce that we are hiring an Evaluation & Strategic Learning Associate!

Under the guidance of the Director of Evaluation and Strategic Learning, the Evaluation & Strategic Learning Associate will work across the organization to support Illuminate Colorado’s data collection, evaluation, and strategic learning efforts.

Experiences, Skills and Qualifications include:

    • One to three years of data, evaluation, and/or research experience and/or academic degree where data, research, and/or evaluation skills are acquired.
    • Strong interest in building and maintaining a database to support organizational learning and improvement.
    • Passion for learning and mobilizing different forms of data to improve operation and impact
    • Commitment to advancing social and racial equity through data and evaluation practices.

Compensation: This is a full-time position eligible for benefits. Starting salary is negotiable and commensurate with skills and experience in the range of $45,000 – $55,000.

If this sounds like an exciting opportunity to you, click on the link below for more details about the position. The deadline to apply is November 30, 2021.

View the complete job posting here.

To Apply: Please submit a cover letter, resume, and three references via email with “Evaluation and Strategic Learning Associate” in the subject line to hiring@illuminatecolorado.org.

Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing Receives 2021 Illuminating Media Award

Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing Receives 2021 Illuminating Media Award

The way information is framed in the media, the stories journalists, editors and producers choose to tell and the selection of images that get paired with those stories play an extraordinary role in shaping the environments in which we all live and raise our children. That is why Illuminate Colorado created the Illuminating Media Award, to recognize and shine a light on media outlets and journalists preventing child maltreatment through the stories they share with the community. This year, Illuminate Colorado has selected Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing to receive the 2021 Illuminating Media Award for helping to build brighter childhoods in Colorado.

The pandemic created unprecedented levels of stress in parents’ lives. Over the course of almost a year and half now, in addition to all the normal trials and tribulations of parenthood, people raising children have had to navigate so much more than our parents before us as we tried our best to maintain our own mental health and literally do it all. 

Parents tried to work virtually from home while running an online classroom in the background. Frontline parents placed themselves at risk, distanced themselves from their families to care for others, and tried to stay emotionally connected to their children. Unemployed parents tried to navigate resources in the community to keep a roof over their heads and their children fed. We all tried and for that we all deserve to be congratulated because there is no perfect parent. Throughout it all Colorado’s go-to parenting guide became so much more to us during this pandemic and they too shifted so much of what they normally do. 

Colorado Parent Magazine expanded from the traditional print magazine we all picked up at the local supermarket or pediatrician’s office to a digital edition we could all rely on from the safety of our inboxes. It became a space that told stories and shared resources online to help Colorado parents and children get through this tough time and, hopefully, come out the otherside relatively unscathed. 

In addition to donating advertising and promotion as the Media Sponsor for the 2021 Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign helping Illuminate distribute more than 40,000 pinwheels throughout Colorado to raise awareness for the prevention of child maltreatment, Colorado Parent has provided a platform for local child development experts to share helpful tips and parents and caregivers to share stories that bring the Protective Factors to life all year-long. It is for this ongoing commitment to strengthen Colorado families and build knowledge of parenting and child development that we honor Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing for illuminating media

Colorado Parent Bringing the Protective Factors to Life

Here a just a few of our favorites Colorado Parent stories over the last several months that have brought the Protective Factors to life: 

  • Father To Father: When Your Son Has Special Needs – The story of two fathers connecting, one far along the journey through parenthood with a multi-disabled son who was turning 31 and the other just beginning to grapple with his six year-old son’s Autism diagnosis. 
  • Powerful Puberty Class Teaches Moms and Daughters – Normalizing the continued conversations we should be having with our kids throughout their development, this is a great article highlighting one midwife and educator teaching moms and their tween and teen daughters about puberty, body image, and why we should celebrate—not squirm about—their changing bodies.

We look forward to the day when we can recognize the wonderful staff of Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing in person with this award. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to check out Colorado Parent’s Free email newsletters and follow us on Twitter as we share more #IlluminatingMedia.

Illuminate Colorado Is Hiring an Evaluation & Strategic Learning Associate (POSITION FILLED)

Illuminate Colorado Is Hiring Two New Associates (POSITIONS FILLED)

We are excited to announce that we are hiring two new associate positions!

Communications and Education Associate (Position Filled)

Under the guidance of the Communications Manager, this position will work with our entire organization and community members from all over the state to manage first impressions for our organization, seamlessly connect people interested in the prevention of child maltreatment and integrate our systems building brighter childhoods. The Communications & Education Associate will help implement the strategic communications plan to achieve high quality communications and increase brand awareness for Illuminate Colorado. The individual should be detail-oriented, able to meet tight deadlines, flexible, and experienced with supporting an organization’s internal and external communication to a variety of audiences via websites, email, social media, print and events. The ideal candidate will be able to create and edit quality content, able to clearly and effectively communicate in writing and orally and have strong administrative and organizational skills. He/She/They will provide support with project management, social media, events, PR, administrative tasks, and other duties as assigned.

Qualifications / Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or a related field and a minimum of one to three years of predominantly external communications experience. Equivalent combinations of experience/education will be considered. Excellent verbal and written communications skills in Spanish preferred.

Compensation: This is a full-time position eligible for benefits. Starting salary is negotiable and commensurate with skills and experience in the range of $40,000 – $50,000.

If this sounds like an exciting opportunity to you, click on the link below for more details about the position. The deadline to apply is May 12.

View the complete job posting here.

To Apply: Please submit a cover letter, resume, and three references via email with “Communications and Education Associate” in the subject line to hiring@illuminatecolorado.org.

Operations Associate

Under the guidance of the Director of Operations, this position will support the business and operational functions of the organization, including finance, human resources, and administrative responsibilities. The Operations Associate will help manage monthly and ongoing administrative and financial processes and procedures including managing the fundraising platforms, as well as help support employee hiring, onboarding/offboarding, recognition, and benefit management. The individual should possess strong detail-orientation, flexibility, and customer service skills, with a proactive and process oriented work style.

Qualifications / Requirements: At least two years of related experience with finance, human resources, administrative and/or office support required, preferably with a nonprofit organization. Equivalent combinations of education and experience will be considered.

Compensation: This is a part-time position (24 hour per week) eligible for benefits. Starting salary is negotiable and commensurate with skills and experience in the range of $24,000 – $30,000 (equivalent of $19 to $24 per hour).

If this sounds like an exciting opportunity to you, click on the link below for more details about the position. The deadline to apply is June 21.

View the complete job posting here.

To Apply: Please submit a cover letter, resume, and three references via email with “Operations Associate” in the subject line to hiring@illuminatecolorado.org.

Illuminate Colorado is Giving Away 40,000 Pinwheels To Inspire A Conversation

Illuminate Colorado is Giving Away 40,000 Pinwheels To Inspire A Conversation

Growing A Better Tomorrow, Together

Communities have a BIG influence in families’ lives. ​Just like a plant is more likely to thrive in a garden with good soil and plenty of sunlight and water, families are more likely to thrive in nurturing communities.​

Every day, you can plant seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy.   

DENVER, March 30, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Illuminate Colorado (Illuminate), the Colorado Chapter for Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America), has given away 30,000 free Pinwheels for Prevention® to inspire Coloradans to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. The nonprofit working to strengthen families, organizations and communities is calling on an additional 10,000 Coloradans to claim their FREE pinwheels and plant them in their front yards and neighborhoods as part of a national movement to recognize the importance of community-based support for all children and families during National Child Abuse Prevention Month this April, and all year-long.

“We can build healthier, safer and thriving communities if we take the same approach to raising families that we do to tending a community garden on a shared piece of land. Just like a plant is more likely to thrive in a garden with good soil and plenty of sunlight and water, families are more likely to thrive in nurturing communities,” said Jade Woodard, executive director of Illuminate Colorado.

Throughout the month of April, Illuminate and other PCAA chapters, as well as local supporters in more than 150 cities in Colorado, are planting pinwheels and using this community garden metaphor to reinforce the message that “every day, we help positive childhood experiences take root.” Planting a pinwheel represents the bright childhoods we all want for children.

“Research shows that positive childhood experiences in nurturing environments provide fertile ground for physical and mental health, learning, and social skills,” explained Dr. Melissa Merrick, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “By preventing child abuse and neglect we aim to holistically improve the lives of all families and the communities they live in.”

The Coronavirus outbreak and its subsequent losses have changed the world and prevention professionals are still working to understand the pandemic’s repercussions for incidents of child maltreatment to reduce adversity in childhood. The pandemic experience has had a consequential impact on an entire generation of children, sadly some more than others. Too many of our children have likely experienced at least one adverse childhood experience by now. Communities must nurture them going forward to heal.

The risk to our nation’s children for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty is quite high. COVID-19 has added stressors to the lives of parents and caregivers, such as loss of employment, loss of income due to lack of paid leave, school and business closings that necessitate new child care and homeschool arrangements, and food insecurity. The social connections and community services and activities that serve as protective factors against child abuse and neglect may not exist in this extraordinary time of physical distancing.

But few news reports since the COVID-19 pandemic began have focused on issues related to child abuse beyond the volume reports of child abuse, with an Associated Press analysis released this week highlighting a national total decrease of 18 percent in both total reports and investigations. Media coverage has overlooked the importance of protective factors that help buffer families from the negative consequences of exposure to risks, like isolation, unemployment, substance use and mental illness, by reducing the impact of the risk or changing the way a person parenting responds to the risk.

Families get overloaded with stress or risks and, like a truck carrying too much weight, they can’t move forward. But when parents, friends, family, employers, neighbors and community leaders know how to lighten the load by increasing the following protective factors, that is how tragedy can be avoided.

Having the Pinwheels Conversation 
Far too many people, parents and professionals alike,  don’t know how to prevent child abuse. Research has shown five Protective Factors have the power to prevent and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

“It is time to have a different conversation about helping families upstream. There is more than one narrative connected to child abuse prevention than whether or not reports are down or up, in fact there are at least five different stories to tell. If there is a child at home or in your neighborhood then every day, you have a responsibility to plant the seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy and we all have a responsibility to help you grow a better tomorrow,” continued Woodard.

When we increase these five protective factors for all families, we strengthen families, prevent child abuse and build brighter childhoods.

1. Build Parental Resilience
Resilience is managing stress and dealing with your life, even when things get difficult.

Right now, stress is HIGH. You’ve likely felt a little short-temper, yelled or not been your best-self at moments. Everyone needs to practice self-care right now, especially parents. Take care of yourself, to take care of your kids. Share a mindfulness or stress management tip, encourage others parents to give themselves permission to not be perfect.

2. Build Social Connections 
Having a network of friends and family helps us feel secure, confident and empowered. Accept help from others and look for opportunities to give back. Reach out to others, talk about what is going on in your life. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Focus on nurturing relationships where you feel respected and appreciated.

3. Build Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
There is no perfect parent, but knowing what to expect does make the job easier. Discover what to expect as your child grows. Try new skills and tips to help your child progress and thrive. Pause to understand why your child is acting out and respond in a positive, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate way.

4. Build Concrete Support in Times of Need
Some problems are too big to solve alone. Knowing where to get help in the community can make life easier. Know what help is available in your community. Make a plan for what programs you might need if you were faced with unemployment or severe illness. Reach out and ask for support when needed. Share your story with others about programs and resources that have helped you.

5. Build Social and Emotional Competence of Children
Help children develop skills so they can manage their emotions and build healthy relationships with their peers and adults. Respond warmly and consistently to your child. Allow your child to express their emotions. Model how to be kind and interact positively with others.

So this April, during child abuse prevention month, the hope is at least 10,000 more people will plant a pinwheel.  And, by the end of the month, with 40,000 pinwheels planted in front yards and neighborhoods throughout the state, more people will know how to plant the seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy.

Illuminate also recommends the following ways that people everywhere can dig in and help raise awareness and impact virtually during child abuse month:

  • Thursday, April 1, wear blue to show support for positive childhood experiences. Post a photo or video on social media and include the #WearBlueDay2021. Join together at 10:00 AM with Governor Jared Polis for the virtual launch of National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Colorado on Illuminate’s Facebook page.
  • Enter the #GrowingBetterTogether Photo Contest. Submit a pinwheels photo for a chance to win a grant for your favorite Colorado nonprofit serving children and families! Photos with the most votes on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 1:00 pm (MTN) win the opportunity to select a Colorado nonprofit serving children and families to receive grants of $1,000, $300 and $200. See the campaign website for official rules.
  • Join a FREE two-hour interactive virtual introductory course to learn how to “bring the protective factors to life” at home, work and in your community. Offered April 19, from 10:00 am  12:00 pm and April 21 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Get inspired to move from knowledge to action in your community.
  • April 8 is World Day for Prevention and Healing from Child Sexual Abuse — every survivor and their loved ones need access to services for healing and resilience. Together, we can reach a tipping point in Colorado where children grow up happy, healthy and safe in communities that prevent children from experiencing sexual abuse. If enough adults in a community take a FREE two-hour interactive online training then, together, we can create a new standard of child safety in your community and throughout Colorado. Visit TipColorado.org to help your county reach the tipping point.
  • Join PCAA, sorority partners at Kappa Delta and Sigma Delta Tau and Illuminate in a Digital Advocacy Day. Contact your elected officials and spread the word about policy change that’s vital to the well-being of children and their families. Visit IlluminateColorado.org/2021policy for a guide to what policies and legislation in Colorado build protective factors.
  • Use the hashtag #GrowingBetterTogether to connect to the movement in your community, find other ways to get involved and signify your commitment to helping children, families and entire communities to thrive. Illuminate Colorado is by no means the only organization in Colorado working to strengthen families or raise awareness during this time. Look for pinwheels in your community to begin to pop up soon as a sign of a family-friendly organization or home committed to planting the seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy.

Visit COPinwheelsForPrevention.org to get involved, enter the #GrowingBetterTogether Photo Contest and learn more about how to strengthen your family and the families in your community.

About Illuminate Colorado
Illuminate Colorado is a statewide nonprofit strengthening families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment. With a research-based approach that emphasizes building promotive and protective factors, we address systemic and multi-sector issues by collaborating with families and partners at the community, state and national level to develop and implement powerful programs, policies and initiatives that keep kids safe in Colorado. Visit www.IlluminateColorado.org to learn more.

About Prevent Child Abuse America
Prevent Child Abuse America is a leading champion for all children in the United States. Founded in 1972 and headquartered in Chicago, we are the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect, working to actively prevent all forms of child abuse and neglect before they occur. Our success is founded on a nationwide network of state chapters and nearly 600 Healthy Families America home visiting sites, which directly provide parents and caregivers a wide variety of services and resources that help children grow up to be productive, contributing members of their communities and society. Our comprehensive approach is informed by science—we translate and disseminate innovative research to promote proven solutions that our vast network then puts into action. And we raise public awareness and advocate for family friendly policies at the national, state, and local levels to support transformative programs and promote the conditions and contexts that help children, families, and communities across the country thrive. Visit preventchildabuse.org to learn more.

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