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Sunshine House Helps Sexually Abused Children
Tuesday, 05 March 2013

March 5--  One of the dirty little secrets in our society is the sexual abuse of children and most often it's by a relative or family friend.

Carol Donaldson of the Sunshine House in Swainsboro says her agency counsels hundreds of children who have been sexually abused in the five-county Middle Judicial Circuit which includes Toombs, Emanuel, Candler, Washington and Jefferson counties.

"It's in the 250 range per year.  One out of four girls and one out of six boys will be sexually abused by the time they reach their 18th birthday.  With those numbers, those children that we can see are small compared to what's really out there," she says.

Donaldson says at one time the Sunshine House was helping over 400 children a year until its budget was cut by former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.

She says it's up to citizens to be aware of the problem and intervene when they see something suspicious or curious about a child.

"Begin the discussion, that's how the Sunshine House was founded, when a group of individuals in the Exchange Club began asking questions about why there was a case of sensational child abuse in their community. People have to be aware and once they learn there is something that needs to be reported, they have to follow through and make that report and be persistent.  That's how we save the lives of children," Donaldson says.

A new addition to the Sunshine House staff is Jenny Manning of Vidalia.  She was not prepared for the scope of child abuse in our area.

"I was very shocked.  Unless you're involved and see what's going on, you're immune to the problem.  It's not to say it's happening to all kids, but if it's happening to even one, it's a problem,' Manning says.

Jenny has two children of her own and her experience with the Sunshine House has made her more protective and proactive regarding her kids.

"Basically I need to ask more questions about where my children are going and I need to teach them what's right and wrong behavior from an adult," she advises.


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