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Local organization gives advice on how to protect children from abuse

South Bend, Ind. -- A South Bend organization is giving advice to parents in wake of the Larry Nassar scandal. 

On Wednesday, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced former Team USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor, Larry Nassar, to a maximum of 175 years in prison for sexually abusing young athletes. Nassar 

The case is leaving parents in Michiana wondering how they can better prevent these kinds of events from happening to their children in the first place. 

Prevent Child Abuse St. Joesph County is a nonprofit organization helping parents answer that question. 

The organization is focused on providing resources to parents and the community on child abuse prevention. 

Christina McGovern, coordinator for PCA, said parents can prevent sexual abuse from happening to their child by using resources they already have. 

It starts with looking for things that aren't normal or a change in your child's behavior. 

If you suspect something might be happening, McGovern suggested talking to a professional, not your child. McGovern said websites like Darkness to Light and apps like Stewards of Children Prevention Toolkit are additional useful resources for parents. 

"Certainly try to get as much information as you can, but realize that there are great resources within the community” McGovern said. 

She also said it's important to trust your gut feeling. If something doesn't feel right, she said to take action right away. 

Openly communicating with children is another important part. McGovern said to frequently talk to children about appropriate relationships between them and adults. 

"Having that conversation with your child that their body is their own," McGovern said. 

McGovern said the most important takeaway for parents is to create an environment in which the child feels comfortable speaking up when something is wrong. 

"Believe the child. I think that's the biggest message that has come from some of the national headlines." McGovern said. 

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