The sexual abuse of children is an overwhelming problem and its effects are devastating. Our children need us to help prevent abuse from happening in the first place. This month’s “Straight Talk for Parents” session will share with community members ways to prevent child sexual abuse in our community.
Two years ago, through the partnership of the Centre County Youth Service Bureau, the YMCA and the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, the “Stewards of Children” program was brought to the region with the goal of training 5,800 adults in three years. Since that time, we have trained 3,200 adults who want to protect the children in our community. The program is a two-hour, evidence-informed training program that teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse and is designed for parents, youth-serving organizations and other concerned community members.
Research shows that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by the time they turn 18. Think about 10 children in your life — your 4-year-old neighbor, the 13-year-old boy you always see riding his bike, a group of kids walking home from school or the children you see while you are out to dinner. Protecting these children starts with prevention and awareness. Everyone has the potential to make a difference in this community because the consequences of child sexual abuse don’t stop with the effects on the child, or on the family; it affects the whole community.
Almost every week, we can open a newspaper and see a new report of a child being sexually abused. Until the day those reports are eliminated, our community needs to continue to talk about prevention and recognition.
Consider attending a “Stewards of Children” training. In two hours, you will have increased awareness of the prevalence, consequences and circumstances of this abuse. You will have skills to create a positive change in organization with their policies and procedures. And, just as importantly, you will be empowered to develop your own personal prevention plan.
This training is for anyone who wants to make a difference in their community by educating adults about the protection of children.
Cameron Frantz is director of community outreach at the YMCA of Centre County. This weekly column is a collaboration of Centre County Communities that Care serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley, and Philipsburg-Osceola area school districts, and Care Partnership: Centre Region Communities that Care serving the State College Area School District.