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MidWeek Staff

Providing Hope For Abused Children

By Joan Naguwa, president and executive director, Children’s Alliance of Hawaii

National evidence indicates that one in three girls and one in five boys have been sexually abused before the age of 18. If left untreated, sexually abused children are at risk for serious social problems, including substance abuse, low educational achievement, mental health disorders, suicide and criminal activities. And the effects of sexual abuse can extend into adulthood.

Children can heal from sexual abuse and go on to live healthy and productive lives. But they can seldom accomplish this on their own. Established in 1987, the Children’s Alliance of Hawaii (CAH) has devoted itself to providing caring support for sexually abused children, offering hope for the future.

Take Gina. At age 12, she sought out her biological father, with whom she had minimal contact for most of her life. As their relationship grew closer, Gina’s father began sexually abusing her. The abuse lasted for more than two years. When Gina disclosed the abuse to a family member, her biological father was arrested and later found guilty. After becoming involved in CAH’s group therapeutic and mentoring programs, Gina’s school grades improved and she became active in school sports. As a senior in high school, Gina decided to base her senior project on her future career goal of becoming a social worker. She hopes to positively change the lives of sexually abused girls, just as CAH has done for her.

CAH offers unique programs intended to augment the services of its many fine partner agencies and to enhance the quality of life of sexually abused children. The goals for this continuum of care are to help sexual-abuse victims regain the joy of their lost childhood, improve their self-esteem, understand they are not alone in their struggle and empower them to create a productive strategic plan for their life.

As a nonprofit organization, CAH relies on funding from individuals and foundations. One of our biggest fundraisers is our Mahealani event, which this year will be held Sept. 14 at The Royal Hawaiian hotel. Hot Club at the Royal will feature great food, live and silent auctions, and a performance by Sonny Silva and The Hot Club of Hulaville, 2011 Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning jazz artists.

For more information, contact The Children’s Alliance of Hawaii at cah@cahawaii.org, call 599-2955 or go online at cahawaii.org.

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