Saving Kids from Sexual Abuse; White Balloon Day Helps Kids to Share Their Feelings Openly

The Observer (Gladstone, Australia), September 8, 2017 | Go to article overview

Saving Kids from Sexual Abuse; White Balloon Day Helps Kids to Share Their Feelings Openly


Byline: Sherele Moody Sherele.Moody@newsregional media.com.au

GIRAFFES are known for many things, but saving lives, not so much. Until now.

About 26 years ago, Life Education's iconic Healthy Harold giraffe gave a little piece of information to 10-year-old Jimmy Morrison that would change his life forever.

"I wasn't aware that I was suffering sexual abuse," Mr Morrison, now 36, told NewsRegional.

"It wasn't until we had a visit from Healthy Harold ... he explained about people touching your body and all these things started to line up.

"My abuser said not to tell anyone about the abuse, it was 'our secret'."

Bravely, the youngster put a plan in place to make sure the abuser would never touch him again.

"I made people in my life aware that it was happening so they could do something about it."

The perpetrator was never held to account and the abuse had a devastating impact on Mr Morrison's adulthood, with him turning to the bottle to dull his pain.

Now completely sober, the child safety campaigner hopes his story will inspire others to teach their kids about sexual assault.

Experts believe one in five Aussies will experience abuse - this means about 3400 of Gladstone's 17,192 children and young people are at risk.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston hopes our region will join the fight against child sex assault by "chalking it up" for White Balloon Day today.

The event is one of many being held across Queensland for Child Protection Week that ends tomorrow.

White Balloon Day participants can draw white balloon murals with safety messages for kids and share their artworks with Bravehearts.

"The most important thing about the white balloon is it brings hope," Ms Johnston said.

"We're asking people to draw white balloons so others will see it and know they can seek help."

Teaching students about safety will be one of the aims of St Francis Catholic Primary School staff when the Tannum Sands school takes part in Child Protection Week. (See photos page 21).

The week includes the school presenting free books on child safety and bullying to 70 children and a forum where students will talk about their understandings of what it means to be safe.

"Our number one priority is to make sure our children are safe and we promote that as much as possible," principal Kathleen Watt said.

"The kids know they have a right to be safe and to seek help if needed."

Kids Helpline's Tony Fitzgerald said his organisation had 130 counsellors across Australia who were able to respond to a range of issues facing kids, including abuse. …

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