Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention – a Comparison between RAINN and Lauren’s Place
When I started this assignment I was unsure of how to proceed. I spoke with some trusted professionals in the fields of Psychology and Human Services and I scoured the internet searching for something that stood out to me as exceptional. Nothing did, so I settled on 2 organizations and began my research.
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Somewhere along the way, I unintentionally ended up on a page hosted by Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN.) I was so impressed that I dropped one of the organizations I had already researched and replaced it with RAINN. In this essay I will be evaluating and comparing Lauren’s Kids to RAINN, and offering suggestions on possible ways each program might be improved. Lauren’s Kids is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was founded in 2007 and is run by Florida State Senator, Lauren Book. A survivor of childhood sexual abuse herself, Lauren has advocated for more than a dozen laws geared toward protecting children and imposing tough penalties on predators. Her goal was to create a forum where educational information on sexual abuse prevention, intervention and treatment could be easily accessed by and distributed to survivors of sexual abuse, parents, care givers, school counselors, social workers, teachers, and school administrators.
This was accomplished by the implementation of Safer, Smarter Schools, a K-12 abuse prevention program that focuses on empowering and promoting safety awareness in children, educators, support staff, and parents. The curriculum is available to schools throughout the country and internationally at no cost. In addition to the vast library of resources available on the program’s website, Lauren’s Kids also raises both money and sexual abuse awareness by leading the annual “Walk in My Shoes” awareness walk. The 1500 mile trek across the state of Florida begins in the Keys and ends in Tallahassee. The organization is funded in part by federal dollars, but also relies on corporate and individual donations. The company conducts polls and self-reports in regard to tracking its success rate and has a GuideStar rating of Silver. GuideStar is a highly respected reporting service that specializes in reporting on U.S. non-profit companies. The service has 4 ratings, bronze, silver, gold, and it has recently added platinum. The rating for a nonprofit organization is based on the information provided in a company’s profile as well as its level of transparency. The second organization I chose to report on, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) really got my attention. RAINN is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and was founded in 1994 by the company’s president, Scott Berkowitz.
It is currently the largest anti sexual violence organization in the nation and is geared to serve both children and adults of all ages. One year after its inception, RAINN created the National Sexual Assault Hotline which it continues to operate. The organization had established partnerships with well over 1,000 sexual abuse service providers throughout the country and also operates the Helpline for the Department of Defense (DoD.) Like Lauren’s Kids, RAINN also places high importance on bringing perpetrators to justice, however, RAINN has a much larger and far reaching network of services and providers than Lauren’s Kids does. I was overwhelmed by the amount of information available through this organization! During my research it appeared to me that in comparison to Lauren’s Kids, RAINN had a significantly higher number of resources, and they were suited to every possible set of circumstances surrounding sexual violence. Although there may be some cost related to certain services, many of the resources and educational materials available through RAINN are provided at no cost, and the National Sexual Abuse Hotline is always free. Another similarity between the two organizations is the incorporation of an annual event aimed at educating and raising public awareness about sexual abuse prevention, intervention and recovery. RAINN Day is held at college campuses across the country during the month of April to coincide with Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM). It is an opportunity to educate students about sexual violence, preventative measures, intervention and healing, while encouraging students to educate their peers. Like Lauren’s Kids, RAINN receives funding on a federal level but also relies on donations, however, RAINN’s contributors and sponsors exist on a much grander scale based on the sheer size of the organization and its reputation for excellence. ( (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network , 2018) (Laurens Kids, 2018)RAINN also has a GuideStar rating; however, RAINN’s rating is Platinum, which is the highest GuideStar rating a company can achieve.
During my research, I noticed that RAINN had much more information to provide to GuideStar for evaluation than Lauren’s Kids did which may have contributed to the difference in rating levels. When it comes to evaluating the shortfalls of each organization, I honestly feel that both programs are excellent. Between the two of them, they help millions of people in a multitude of ways ranging from free educational materials geared towards prevention, to low or no cost counseling services for victims of sexual abuse. Lauren’s Kids strong point is their Safer, Smarter Schools program which is a very specific and effective academic tool available to educators at no cost. Any preventative measure that can reduce the risk of a child falling victim to sexual violence is priceless and Lauren’s Kids proactively offers their program to schools at no cost. This has life changing potential. I was not able to see many downfalls with Lauren’s Kids, however I noticed some controversy in regard to the company receiving millions of federal dollars based on results gathered from internet polls which are vague, difficult to measure, and no substitute for face to face interviews. It appears that a large portion of the statistics reported by the company in regard to public need and success stories are gathered via anonymous polls initiated by the organization. I think for an organization that relies heavily on the internet to spread its message, polling has its place, however, I would suggest that Lauren’s Kids compile a team specifically for the purpose of conducting live interviews. Speaking in detail with individuals that have utilized their program and services will allow them to get a more accurate picture of what is working and what could use improvement.
This information would be very useful and potentially have more of an impact when asking for funding on both the federal level and in the private sector. When considering the downfalls for RAINN, it was difficult for me to see any. This program is genuinely impressive and I am amazed at how well organized it is on every level. Since it is a requirement that I discuss correcting a flaw in the program, I will point out that because the organization is so large and all encompassing; I found it to be a bit overwhelming when researching it. There is far too much information to do more than scratch the surface when discussing this organization and it continues to grow and evolve every day. I do find it strange that I had never heard of RAINN prior to this assignment, considering that I work with victims of sexual abuse and the state and local agencies that deal specifically with victims of sexual abuse. Because of this, I would strongly suggest that the company take a more aggressive approach to making their name more recognizable to the general public. While it is true that RAINN offers everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to resources for those who are seeking information, they may be lacking when it comes to making their name and organization known to the portion of the population who have been fortunate enough not to need them.
The fact is, even if a person has not been abused, there isn’t a person alive who doesn’t know someone who has. For this reason I believe it could be as critical to be aware of RAINN, as it is to know how to call 911 in a medical emergency. RAINN is much larger than Lauren’s Kids, and has more options and resources to offer, but one has to know what they need and then have the ability to look for it, as opposed to Lauren’s Kids, Safer, Smarter Schools program which offers one specific program making it much easier to introduce into a schools curriculum . In conclusion, one of the greatest benefits of writing this paper was gaining new and exciting resources to add to my existing resource guide. Both organizations are wonderful, however, between the two, RAINN is a better fit for my current job and I suspect that going forward, it will become one of my greatest assets when assisting clients.
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