Rally to End Child Sexual Abuse

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By: Gina Pitisci

Statistics show that one in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually abused before they are 18 years old.

WCTV spoke to the founder of Lauren's Kids and a survivor about how the "Walk in My Shoes Event" is bringing awareness to sexual abuse and changing that statistic.

"The abuse went on 365 days a year, 7 days a week, there was never a time off, there was never a break," Lauren Book , Founder, Lauren's Kids, said.

And from that horrific experience, Lauren Book decided that it was really important to turn a negative into a positive.

"95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable with education and awareness so that's what we're here doing, that's what my foundation does, but during the month of April I lace up my shoes and walk across the state and we touch different communities, different areas of the state, we talk about the issues," said Book.

The Historic Florida Capitol was lit teal Monday night while a group of supporters lit candles and then walked 6 miles from downtown to the Tallahassee mall and back to bring awareness to the community.

"People aren't aware that it's happening right underneath them, It's happening in the schools, it's happening in the churches, it's happening everywhere," Cathy Thomas, Survivor of Child Abuse, said.

Cathy Thomas was one of many survivors that participated in the sunset walk from the capital and says it means a lot to her to get the word out to kids so they don't go through what she did.

"I was scared, I was told not to say anything, but it's okay to talk and it's okay to make people aware of what you are going through," Thomas said.

The public is invited to walk the final mile of the 15-hundred mile walk across the state tomorrow starting at 10:50 a.m. from JC Penny's at the Governor's Square Mall back to the Capitol.

If you or someone you know may be a victim of child abuse, you are urged to call the department of children and families hotline and that number is 800-96-ABUSE.

By: Michael Springer

Advocates for child sexual abuse victims are taking steps to fight back.

That's right. It's park of 'Walk in My Shoes.' The group is walking across Florida as they raise awareness on child sex abuse.

Lauren Book started doing this walk four years ago. It's a way for her and the dozens of other here right now to have their voices heard and stand up against sexual abuse.

Book herself is a child sex abuse victim. She was abused at the hands of her nanny from the time she was 11 until she was 16. Now she is using her organization, Lauren's Kids and rallies like this one to gain support for child sex abuse victims. We caught up with her earlier today at an event outside the Leon County Courthouse. She says the most important thing someone can do if they see someone being abused is to speak out.

"It's really important that they hear our message that it is okay to tell," Lauren Book, Child Sex Abuse Victim, said. "They can get hope, help and healing at any point and at any time in their journey."

Book has a hotline you can call if you need help. That number is 1-877-L-Kids-01.

Book and her group will wrap everything up tomorrow. That will culminate with a big rally right here at the Capitol with the Governor.

Press Release: Office of Tax Collector

In support of Lauren's Kids, a 501(c)(3) organization that is committed to working to prevent sexual abuse and heal victims to survivorship, the Leon County Tax Collector's is holding a rally style event on April 22, 2013 from 10:00 A.M. - 11:30 A.M. in front of the Leon County Courthouse. Lauren's Kids educates adults and children through "Safer, Smarter Kids," an in-school curriculum, as well as a "Parent's Toolkit." In addition, the non-profit organization also operates a 24-hour crisis hotline, and works daily to connected families in need with local resources.

Tax Collectors are required by Florida Statute to collect voluntary contributions for certain charitable organizations; Lauren's Kids is one of the organizations. Lauren Book, the President and CEO of the organization was sexual abused as a child, which motivated her to help other kids with her message that it is "alright to tell". This event is one of several to be held in other counties. The events culminate with a walk to the Capitol on April 23rd.

Please visit her website at: for additional information. Also, Lauren Book is now a resident of Leon County.

School Board Member Joy Bowen will speak at the rally and Tax Collector Doris Maloy will introduce Lauren Book. Ramon Alexander, 2012 Volunteer of the Year is also scheduled to speak.

The event is open to the community to listen, learn and show support.

A bit of background: As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and with the resolute guidance and steadfast determination of her father, Lauren Book founded Lauren's Kids in 2007 (LaurensKids.org ).

For the past three years, Lauren has walked the entire state of Florida to raise awareness regarding this epidemic. The Walk in My Shoes journey begins in Key West and concludes in Tallahassee (this year, March 19 - April 23). Throughout the course of the journey, thousands participate and many victims come forward to share their stories of abuse for the first time. This 1,500-mile journey across the state includes community events with local elementary schools, sexual assault treatment and child advocacy centers, multi-disciplinary teams, major sports teams, and universities along the route.

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