Help prevent child sexual abuse by having uncomfortable conversations with your kids

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. How can you get involved? PCAND has an event set for April 29 in West Fargo.

ND Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Task Force Director Lindsey Burkhardt testifies before the ND Legislature regarding a Senate Bill that would extend the North Dakota Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Task Force through 2025. The bill passed unanimously. Looking on is task force member and Rape & Abuse Crisis Center Director Christopher Johnson.
Contributed photo

Many parents may find it overwhelming to think about how to talk with their child about sexual abuse. It’s an uncomfortable topic and adults may feel like they can’t adequately address the issue in a way that is both meaningful and helpful

Talk to them anyway.

“It is uncomfortable to talk about, and it’s awful to think about it happening, but we need to have these conversations with our kids,” said Lindsey Burkhardt, the ND Child Sexual Abuse Prevention task force director. “Talking to kids about their bodies and using the correct word for their body parts is one prevention strategy…It’s about having small check-ins with kids, rather than one big conversation. It’s 100 1-minute conversations.”

The stats about child sexual abuse are grim. According to the 2022 Annual Report of the ND Children’s Advocacy Centers, 1 in 10 ND kids will be a victim of sexual abuse by their 18th birthday, and about 65% of the victims will be female.

Despite knowing that, Burkhardt is hopeful. “It’s an emotional roller coaster balancing this work with being a mom,” she said. “It’s easy to let fear consume you, but hope is so much better and stronger than fear.”


Burkhardt shared that recent steps taken by the task force offer optimism for the future and safety of ND children. After launching a statewide survey last year, the North Dakota Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Task Force developed a resource guide that includes important programs and training. The guide also highlights policies and procedures regarding hiring safe people and what safe environments for children look like.

“The resource guide is available right now, and printed versions are free,” Burkhardt explained.

The Task Force is now working on a Resource Guide for Caregivers, and the goal is to complete it by 2024.

SUFC poster (002) with deadline.png

At the end of April, Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota (PCAND) is hosting “ Stepping Up for Children ” at Bonanzaville in West Fargo. PCAND is a non-profit organization working to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. The organization is hosting a one-mile long walk at 2 p.m. on April 29 in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month . The event begins at 1 p.m. and will also feature face painting, crafts, a bouncy house, and other kid-friendly activities.

Registration for the walk ends April 7, and costs $25 for adults and $20 for children.

PCAND is also spreading awareness about child abuse prevention through other events in April, such as:

  • A Family Day Make and Take Event on April 15 at the Bismarck library.
  • Digital Advocacy Day on April 19 to advocate for more investments in resources for community-based solutions.
  • A presentation on "Handling stress and being resilient, managing emotions together" on April 20 at the Mandan library.
  • Family Affair at the Square on April 22 at Broadway Square in Fargo.
  • Caring for Kids Conference on April 22 in Grand Forks.

More details about these events as well as a complete list of statewide activities is available on  PCAND’s website.

Additionally, a pilot project for Richland County received the green light at the start of 2023. The project will aim to teach all public school second graders in the Richland County School District about sexual abuse prevention with parental permission. Surveys have been conducted to determine the current understanding of child sexual abuse in the county. Adults will also be provided with child sexual abuse prevention training as well. The project will also launch community awareness messaging across all communities within the county.


Burkhardt said the teaching will begin in the spring and continue with a new group of second graders in the fall. Pre- and post-assessments will be given to the children.  Adults will have the opportunity to provide feedback as well on training they receive.  All county-wide data will be analyzed, and a final report shared with the legislature as well as the general public.

Just last month, the ND Senate and House unanimously passed a bill to extend the Task Force through 2025.

“Preventing child abuse is the one thing we can come together on, parents or otherwise,” Burkhardt said. “We can unite around the idea that all kids deserve to be safe.”

Burkhardt hopes that once the Richland County project is complete it can be duplicated across other counties in the state.  The next pilot project will be conducted within a tribal community, likely in 2024.   

“There’s so much we could do regarding child sexual abuse prevention,” she explained. “Our task force is an amazing group of devoted professionals who care so much about children and want to create a safer North Dakota for everyone.”

To learn more, visit or follow Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota on Facebook. For updates regarding the pilot project, follow Richland County Pilot Project. The resource guide can be found at

Danielle Teigen has a bachelor's degree in journalism and management communication as well as a master's degree in mass communication from North Dakota State University. She has worked for Forum Communications since May 2015, first as a digital content manager before becoming the Life section editor and then deputy editor. In 2020, Danielle recently moved back to her hometown in South Dakota, where she works remotely for Forum Communications as managing editor of On the Minds of Moms as well as writes occasional news and history stories.
What To Read Next
Get Local