WALB - The holidays are a time when people gather together and celebrate the season, it's also a time when the number of child sexual abuse crimes spike.
But there are things you can do now to help protect the children in your life from sexual predators, and if you suspect abuse.
The Executive Director of the Lily Pad Mary Martinez, won't likely spend her holidays with her family, she will spend it assisting other families after a child has been sexually abused.
"Unfortunately, we see higher numbers during those times," said Martinez. "I've spent the last few Thanksgivings here at the Lily Pad and last Christmas, as well."
That's because 90 percent of children who are sexually assaulted are abused by a person they know and trust.
"Unfortunately, most children are abused by someone that they know and that they trust and when more and more family and friends come in for the holidays, our numbers just skyrocket," explained Martinez.
Martinez said that you can protect your children, and it all starts with a conversation.
"First and foremost, the most important thing you can do with your children, grandchildren and loved ones is have an open dialogue. Talk about body parts and their safe zones, and how they don't have to hug or kiss anybody," explained Martinez. "And sure that children know their body is their own body. And, that they can always tell mom or grandmother or someone they know about things that make them uncomfortable. That is where it starts, that open dialogue."
And since Martinez said there are no real warning signs of child abuse, the child has to be willing to talk.
"80 percent of children never tell. 80 percent never ever tell," Martinez said. "Communication is key."
If you suspect a child has been sexually abused, you need to call law enforcement or the Division of Family and Children Services.
You can also call the Lily Pad, and someone at the center will help guide you through the process.
This year, the center saw more than 250 children.