Lasting (and Global!) Impact: A Special Guest Post from Tracy Leonard

A special guest post from D2L Certified Instructor (and former SCAN employee) Tracy Leonard:
Although my family left Northern Virginia and I have left SCAN, I haven’t left the work.  While at SCAN, I was fortunate enough to not only receive the training to become a Darkness to Light Authorized Facilitator, but also a Certified Instructor.  It is a gift that I am so thankful for and continue to use.  In fact, I just returned from a trip to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan to train 22 new Authorized Facilitators.
I was able to use my experiences at SCAN and as a part of the Allies in Prevention Coalition (AIPC) to train these professionals not only in using the Stewards of Children curriculum but also in how to make the greatest impact on base.  That is because so many of SCAN’s AIPC members come from Quantico, Fort Belvoir, and Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall.  I was also able to talk to attendees about establishing a network for themselves where they can meet a few times a year to talk about their experiences as facilitators, discuss roadblocks they may be encountering, and celebrate the successes they are having.  I have that first-hand knowledge because of the 40+-member network of facilitators that SCAN put together in Northern Virginia.
Only 1 of the 22 people I trained at Iwakuni had ever had the Stewards of Children training, so after they took it for the first time it was rewarding to see their wheels turn as they discussed how they could use it in base schools, with their New Parent Support Program, the Family Advocacy Program, and in Behavioral Health–not to mention using it as continuous training to reach out to the greater base community and perhaps even off-base community.
These 22 facilitators have been given a gift.  The gift to teach adults about their responsibility to protect children from child sexual abuse.  And they get to take that gift with them when they move to their next base or return to a civilian community.  We have truly created a way for systematic change to occur and for the prevention wave to take over wherever those trained may go.
This experience comes full circle for myself and SCAN because Diana P. Ortiz–who had worked at Doorways for Women and Children in Arlington for 10 years–is now at MCAS Iwakuni. She had taken a Stewards of Children training put on by SCAN years ago.  Allies in Prevention are everywhere and are continuing to make an impact on reducing child abuse and neglect.  Diana and I are proof!
–Tracy Leonard, Darkness to Light Certified Instructor
You can follow Tracy on Twitter @tracylleonard

Getting Comfortable with Our Discomfort: D2L Facilitator Training in June

Next month, SCAN will host a facilitator workshop for Darkness to Light, where we’ll train adults to deliver the Stewards of Children® training program to others in our local community. Facilitators model the core principals of the curriculum by talking openly about child sexual abuse and engaging adults in discussion, and are expected to schedule and facilitate at least 4 sessions a year. As we prepare for the June 6th training, we are reminded that as adults, we must “get comfortable with our discomfort” if we want to make a difference for the children in our communities. In a recent blog post, D2L’s Executive Director & CEO Katelyn N. Brewer wrote:

“Our inability to act on this issue can be summed up in one word: stigma. Individuals are scared to report due to fear of being ostracized. Friends and family silence victims in disbelief. Corporations are reluctant to associate their brand with an unfriendly cause for fear of what it may imply. Doctors are not required to educate new parents on their child’s susceptibility. Lawmakers are shy to propose bills which erode the statute of limitations. And with little funding available for organizations working to promote change in a scaleable way, we will remain a society that is afraid to address it rather than being afraid not to address it.”

We need more adults in Northern Virginia to be afraid to NOT address the prevalance of child sexual abuse in our community. We need to end the stigma, and training more facilitators is a great next step. Are there people in your organization who are interested in learning more about becoming a facilitator? Darkness to Light has a great overview of facilitator training and requirements here. Or contact SCAN and we can answer your questions and help you register!

 

A Goal We Can Get Behind: “4 Million by 2020” with Darkness to Light

Goals are important to set for so many reasons–they keep us on track, hold us accountable and help push us to our limits.  One goal that we can get behind at SCAN is Darkness to Light’s Four Million by 2020:

Imagine 4 million adults who have been trained in Stewards of Children! 4 million adults who can prevent, recognize and respond to child sexual abuse.  With constant messages and alerts in our news and social media feeds about children who have suffered from the effects of child sexual abuse, we have to be moved to action.  #MeToo, and #TimesUp have shed light on sexual abuse.  But what we are missing here is that these are adults who are coming forward and speaking out.  Most of the abuse they endured happened while they were children.  What if we protected children so that these victims didn’t have to speak out as adults?

If you or your organization has not gone through the 2-hour Stewards of Children training, or if you haven’t had the training in over three years, what are you waiting for?  SCAN has a network of over 40 authorized facilitators who can work with your organization’s schedule to get the training done.  Now THAT’s an important goal. Maybe it’s time for #NoMoreExcuses?

• CLICK HERE to learn more or schedule a training!

 

SCAN’s Response to Larry Nassar: What Every Adult Must Do Next

It is easy to look back at what happened to the over 100 victims of Larry Nassar and see who failed these athletes; Michigan State, USA Gymnastics, coaches and parents who didn’t believe their daughters.  But what if we never had to look back?  What if it had never happened?  I find myself sounding like a broken record yet again when I say it is not enough to hear horror stories about Larry Nassar, but we must DO something so that no other children are sexually abused.  So what can we DO?  Let me provide you with a list.

  1. If you see something, say something.  This catch phrase applies to everything these days.  You do not need to be a mandated reporter to make a report of child abuse (including child sexual abuse) or neglect.
  2. When a child (your own or another child who TRUSTS you) tells you that someone is hurting them, BELIEVE THEM.  On average, 5% of claims by a child are false.  That means 95% are TELLING the TRUTH.
  3. When someone is crossing a barrier with a child (ongoing tickling, inappropriate stories and jokes, closing doors, being alone with a child) speak up and let them know that behavior is not ok.
  4. Make sure that programs and activities that your child is a part of has policies and procedures in place that protect children.  Ask to see them.  If they do not have them, offer to help draft something.
  5. If you choose to allow your child to attend sleepovers at a friends house, ask the parents to show you where the kids will sleep, who else will be home, are doors left open or closed, will they have internet access in the middle of the night…Whatever questions you have – ask.  Whatever rules you would have for your own child – consider them when your child is away from you.
  6. Reduce or eliminate the times your child is left one on one with an adult.  Even if you know and trust the adult.  90% of children are sexual abused by someone the child knows and trusts.
  7. Have open and ongoing conversations with your children about their bodies, the parts of their body that others should not touch, and about sex.
  8. Take the Stewards of Children, Darkness to Light training.  Contact SCAN to set up a training with an organization you are a part of or with a group of parents who simply want to learn how to protect children from child sexual abuse.

Do not sit there and think someone else will do it, or I alone won’t be able to make a difference.  That could not be farther from the truth.  Chose one action and help protect children.  They are worth it!  And we owe it to them.

— Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager + Authorized Darkness to Light Facilitator

The Tough Discussions Are Worth It: Helping Parents Talk About Child Sexual Abuse

As stories of sexual assault and harassment fill our newsfeeds, it’s critical that we talk to children about this issue and its impact. 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by the time they turn 18, yet only a third will report it. As professionals, we need to be able to talk to the families we work with about what they can do when trying to raise a family in a world where sexual assault is a daily news story.  We need to empower parents and give them tools to use to address the issue with their children.

We’re hearing a lot in the news about high-profile sexual assault and harassment cases, which means kids are hearing about it too. How should parents handle it?

The age of the child should dictate how parents handle this issue.  For younger children, simply turn off the television and limit what they are exposed to.  For older children, parents should use it as a teaching moment – keeping open channels of communication, discussing vocabulary, and making sure their older children and teens know it is okay to ask questions.

It is also important that parents, or any adults for that matter, don’t normalize the behaviors and actions.

By opening up lines of communication with the parents we work with, we are helping end the taboo of sexual misconduct.  They will then become more comfortable talking to other adults in their children’s lives like caregivers, teachers, coaches, and relatives.

Much of what has been reported in the news has its basis in boundary violations.  It is important that we teach children about their boundaries and model appropriate boundaries when we are around children. Darkness to Light outlines this perfectly:

If you are a “bystander” who witnesses a boundary violation, or sees a situation in which a child is vulnerable, it’s not important to know the intentions of the person who crossed the boundary. What is important is that you reinforce the boundary – even if you are in front of others, or in a public setting.

Describe the Behavior:

“It’s against policy for you to be in the classroom alone with a student.”

Set a Limit:

“You need to take your conversation to the student lounge.”

Move On:

“I’m on my way there, now, so I’ll walk with you.”

The current news cycle has sexual assault in the spotlight, which means our kids are hearing about it. Instead of shielding them from the discussion, let parents know they should be the one to start it with them. It can be uncomfortable at times, but the hard work is worth it when it means parents can educate their children and establish a safe place for them to ask questions and share feelings in the future.

— Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager: tleonard(at)scanva.org

3 Facts on Child Sexual Abuse, Prevention and SCAN of Northern Virginia

 

  1. FACT: Child sexual abuse is far more prevalent than most people realize.
  •   Child sexual abuse is likely the most prevalent health problem children face with the most serious array of consequences.
  •   About one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
  •   This year, there will be about 400,000 babies born in the U.S. that will become victims of child sexual abuse unless we do something to stop it.
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  1. FACT: Child sexual abuse often takes place under specific, often surprising circumstances. It is helpful to know these circumstances because it allows for the development of strategies to avoid child sexual abuse.
  •   81% of child sexual abuse incidents for all ages occur in one-perpetrator/one-child circumstances.
  •   Most sexual abuse of children occurs in a residence, typically that of the victim or perpetrator – 84% for children under age 12, and 71% for children aged 12 to 17.
  •   Sexual assaults on children are most likely to occur at 8 a.m., 12 p.m. and between 3 and 4 p.m. For older children, aged 12 to 17, there is also a peak in assaults in the late evening hours.
  •   One in seven incidents of sexual assault perpetrated by juveniles occurs on school days in the after-school hours between 3 and 7 p.m., with a peak from 3 to 4 pm.
  1. FACT: SCAN trained 213 individuals last year in the Stewards of Children curriculum, and we are scheduling trainings NOW for the year ahead across Northern Virginia.We need YOU to invite us to train individuals in the agencies, school districts, childcare centers, rec centers and faith groups in your community.

Ready to take action to protect children and empower adults in 2017? Contact Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager, at tleonard(at)scanva.org for details or to schedule a training.

New Workshops with SCAN!

It’s a new school year and we’re excited to launch a new menu of workshops for the community! We encourage ALL groups of people to consider a workshop — from nonprofits, schools and government agencies to parenting groups, employers and faith groups. Our workshops are based on SCAN’s existing child abuse prevention and advocacy programs as well as the expertise of SCAN staff. We can often customize workshops for the specific needs of a group, and most topics are available in English and Spanish, too!

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So, how does your group want to be empowered this year?

We want to prevent CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE PREVENTION:

  • Darkness to Light, Stewards of Children2 hours, $25 per person (minimum 10, maximum 25 people)
  • Talking with Children about Safety from Sexual Abuse, 45 minutes, $150
  • Healthy Touch for Children & Youth, 45 minutes, $150
  • Bystanders Protecting Children from Boundary Violations & Sexual Abuse, 45 minutes, $150
  • Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, 1 hour, $200
  • Child Sexual Abuse for Parents, 1 hour, $150

We want to support PARENT EDUCATION:

  • Have You Filled a Bucket Today, 1 hour, $200
  • How to Connect with Your Child and Build a Resilient Family (Managing Family Stress), 1 hour, $200
  • Wait, My Kid Has a Date?, 1 hour, $200
  • Positive Discipline: Raising Children with Self Control, 1 hour, $200
  • Tech Savvy Parenting/Internet Seguro, 1 hour, $200
  • Families Reunite (Immigrant Family Reunification, 4 weeks, 1.5 hours per night), $1500
  • Made in America: Padres Hispanos Criando Hijos Americanos (Immigrant parents raising children in the US, 4 weeks, 1.5 hours per night), $1500

We want to engage our community in prevention through PUBLIC EDUCATION:

We want to GET TO KNOW SCAN:

  • All About SCAN, @ SCAN
  • How YOU Can Help Prevent Child Abuse in Your Community
  • SCAN Volunteer Orientation, monthly – click link for more information and upcoming dates

We want to host a BROWN BAG SERIES for our employees:

  • Strategies for the Working Parent: Customize a parenting topic to compliment your human resource efforts in your office and offer support to your employees.

Don’t see a topic here you would like? SCAN can customize and deliver a 1-hour workshop for $400. In most cases we can add concurrent children’s programming for an additional fee. (Download the full SCAN Workshop Menu here.)

How can we support your organization in its work this year to build stronger families, support parents and protect children? Contact us and let’s get something on the calendar!

 

Does Your Organization Have a Code of Conduct?

Parents are constantly faced with the challenge of finding reputable, quality programming and care for their children.  To help make decisions easier for parents and to put your organization at the head of the class, do you have a written and posted code of conduct?  A code that lets parents–and children–know what they can expect from the adults who work or volunteer at your organization, how different situations are handled (one-on-one, toileting, transportation), and what the organization’s response is if child sexual abuse is suspected, discovered or disclosed?

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Darkness to Light offers sample documents that you can use to begin understanding what should be included in a code of conduct, and that allow your organization to begin having discussions about procedures and policies that need to be in place to keep all children safe from child sexual abuse.

Codes of conduct do not have to be simply for childcare centers or afterschool programming.  Every organization that serves youth in any capacity should have a code of conduct in place.  It isn’t enough to simply write a code, though.  A code of conduct should be prominently displayed and shared with parents.  If parents begin to expect that all youth-serving settings have codes of conduct, then there will be a true shift in the way kids are protected from those who would try to sexually abuse them.  If you work with parents, begin talking to them about questions they can ask an organization.  Questions that will help ensure their child’s safety.

Here are some questions to start with, via Darkness to Light:

  • Are parents encouraged to drop in at any time?
  • Can parents tour the facilities?
  • Are your staff and volunteers trained in sexual abuse prevention and response?
  • Do you have a code of conduct?  May I have it?
  • How are your policies disseminated and to whom?
  • Are the children aware of the rules?
  • How are older youth screened, monitored and supervised?
  • Do you train, allow and empower your staff and volunteers to report suspicions of sexual abuse?
  • If a staff member or volunteer violates the child sexual abuse prevention policy, what procedures and penalties follow?

– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager
tleonard@scanva.org

Building Capacity, Reaching Our Tipping Point

Darkness to Light has aspired to reach a tipping point with adults in their home state of South Carolina to make sure that they are “actively preventing child sexual abuse by training 5% of the adult population to prevent, recognize and react to child sexual abuse!”  This idea comes from The Tipping Point, a book by Malcolm Gladwell that says social change can occur if 5% of any given population is influenced to think and act a certain way.

D2Lblog_May2016So what does that mean in Northern Virginia?  Our tipping point would be 115,000.  Can we do that?  At SCAN, we would certainly like to think that is attainable.  We alone have trained 1,129 adults and have a network of facilitators across the region who are training even more. Other local organizations – including the Center for Alexandria’s Children, Arlington CAC and Quantico Marine Base Family Advocacy Program – also provide trainings in the area.

We realize at SCAN that we cannot do this alone.  I am now a certified instructor with Darkness to Light, meaning I can train other facilitators to continue to build capacity in Northern Virginia to train even more adults in Stewards of Children. As of May 12th, there are now 7 more authorized facilitators who can help that number grow.

With 23 facilitators now in our network, it would take each of us training 5,000 adults in a year to reach our region’s tipping point.  That might not be within our grasp this year, but we can certainly begin to make a dent and start tipping the scale.  Will you help us?  Have you been trained in Stewards of ChildrenDo you know of an organization, school, faith community or group of parents that should have this training? 

Child welfare professionals like you can help us tip the scales! Not only to ensure change in the way adults prevent, recognize and react to child sexual abuse, but to help us reduce the instances of mental illness, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, delinquency, and school dropouts associated with child sexual abuse.

Please contact me to learn more.

– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager
tleonard@scanva.org

 

Letter to the Editor: It’s Time We All Became a Part of the Solution

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[This Letter to the Editor was first published 4/20/16 in LoudounNow.]

Last week, I spent time with Loudoun County Public School staff providing a Stewards of Children training on how to recognize, react and respond to child sexual abuse. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, so the timing couldn’t have been better.

But we’ve actually been providing trainings in Loudoun and across Northern Virginia through our partnership with Darkness to Light for three years, and hit the 1,000-people-trained milestone in late 2015. We’ve trained camp counselors and parents, teachers and child care providers, faith groups and rec center staff.

This year, SCAN also is working in this region as part of the new Loudoun County Partnership for Resilient Children and Families. Our partners include an incredible list of influencers: HealthWorks for Northern Virginia, INMED, Inova, LAWS (Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter), Loudoun Child Advocacy Center, Loudoun County CPS, Loudoun County Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Developmental Services, Loudoun County Public Schools and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

When people—and organizations—come together like this to make children a priority, it is the only way change really happens in a community. Every time we can talk about the reality of child abuse (yes, it occurs in our community), every time we can empower an adult to take action, we have an opportunity to protect more children, prevent more abuse, and strengthen more families.

On April 26, our partnership will host an exciting opportunity in Ashburn. We’ll be screening the TLC documentary “Breaking the Silence” (See Facebook Event here), and facilitating a panel discussion following the film from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Briar Woods High School. We hope community members will join us to be a part of the discussion; child sexual abuse should not be a taboo subject and it is time we all became part of the solution. Now is your chance.

Tracy Leonard, SCAN of Northern Virginia

[This Letter to the Editor first appeared on 4/20 in LoudounNow. Learn more about the event on SCAN’s website here.]

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