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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have open and ongoing conversations with your children about their bodies, the parts of their body that others should not touch, and about sex.
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
I am writing this blog post fresh from the first Darkness to Light Facilitators Conference, Ignite! I was joined by 170 others from 32 states and 4 countries (including 4 of us from Northern Virginia).
The conference was a fantastic mix of dynamic and engaging keynote speakers, experts in specific content related to Stewards of Children, a panel who shared their lessons learned and achievements, and a chance to interact with others who are faced with similar challenges in engaging the community in such a tough topic. It was also a chance to meet some of the faces from the Stewards of Children videos including Tiffany Sawyer, Carol Hogue, Sylvia Goalen, Keisha Head and of course, Paula Sellers!
For professionals in the field, there were some key takeaways that I have to share. Here are my top 10:
Jim Clemente, retired FBI Supervisory Agent/Profiler reminded us that we have to give victims hope. We cannot condemn them to silence and the inability to seek help.
He also reminded us that we must find BALANCE in our lives or that which we love to do so much can kill us.
Carol Hogue and Martha Tumblin, D2L Instructors Extraordinaire, challenged the facilitators to remember why we must take risks to protect children
Kevin McNeil, Special Victims Detective/author/educator and MOTIVATOR, had so many good thoughts! Including: abuse destroys a child’s ability to make relationships and connections.
We do not need to see abuse to act. When we see it, it is too late.
Trauma freezes thinking.
It’s not enough to listen to a victim, we must hear them.
Abusestops children from giving us the gifts they have inside.
I am lucky to do what I do and to know it makes a difference.
Memphis 2018, Ignite! I will be there. Let’s keep the flame lit.
There are over 10,000 Darkness to Light Facilitators throughout the world, 125 instructors (of which I am 1) and there have been over 1.4 million adults trained to become Stewards of Children.
But that isn’t enough: Darkness to Light’s goal is 4 million trained by 2020.
Will you help us reach that goal? I know Northern Virginia can play a huge role in making this a reality. If you 1.) have not yet been trained, 2.) know of a group of adults who need this training, and/or 3.) If you haven’t had the training in the last three years, please email me today!
— Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager | tleonard(at)scanva.org
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.
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.
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.
Earlier this week, we opened our Community Training Room to 10 adults for Stewards of Children, a child sexual abuse prevention training program from Darkness to Light. The class included parents, a lawyer, a nanny, SCAN board members, CASA volunteers, teachers and more. It was a perfect reflection of why we feel our work in child sexual abuse prevention is so important: It is EVERY ADULT’S responsibility to help protect EVERY CHILD.
That night marked an important milestone for SCAN: we have now trained more than 1,000 adults to recognize, react and respond to child sexual abuse in our community! What a perfect opportunity to share what’s going on in — and what others have been saying about — our work:
SCAN has given six trainings to hundreds of people this summer alone, with organizations ranging from summer camps and recreation centers to parenting groups and Head Start programs.
“Very great job,” said one trainee. “It was incredibly moving and great exposure to this issue.”
Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard and Executive Director Sonia Quinonez are the two approved facilitators on SCAN’s staff, but we also train other facilitators in the community and currently manage a group of about 10 across Northern Virginia, in addition to working with the Center for Alexandria’s Children to train individuals in Alexandria.
“This training was very insightful,” said another trainee. “It provided needed information to ensure protection from abuse of children in my life and those under my care.”
Darkness to Light is our national partner in this work, and has recently been in the news for its work with TLC in producing “Breaking the Silence,” a documentary on child sexual abuse following the unfortunate abuse that occurred in the family featured in the cable channel’s series 19 Kids and Counting. You can watch the documentary here.
1,000 adults trained. A reason to celebrate! Because we know that adults are the first line of defense – a primary line of defense. Primary prevention aims to prevent an injury before it occurs. In a recent D2L blog post, Paula Sellars, M.S.W., writes: “A safe adult is a trained adult.” We encourage you to read her full post here: http://www.d2lblog.com/2015/08/25/first-line-of-defense/#sthash.NvPhyeFB.dpu
And we invite you to consider when YOU will become a safe adult — and adult who will take on their responsibility to protect the children in their community. Be a part of the next 1,000 we train at SCAN!