“Hands are not for hitting” is a common phrase used by parents and caregivers to help teach young children appropriate social interaction skills. We want children to have healthy relationships as they grow older, but what message do we really send to them when they are being told not to hit others, but then experience being hit themselves in the form of punishment from adults?
As a requirement of grant funding, we gather all of our Operation Safe Babies partners together twice a year. But we think of it as much more than a “requirement”. It truly is a special opportunity to get together and share success stories and challenges of not only the Operation Safe Babies program, but also of working with expecting mothers. It is a time where those of us involved are able to get support, share ideas, discuss research and trade resources. At our January meeting, we were packed with over 25 partners! Here are some of the things we shared with them:
When talking to mothers, think about saying this: “How often does baby sleep with you?” (Instead of, “Where does baby sleep?”) This allows for a more honest discussion. We know that moms are co-sleeping with their babies, and this provides us with a chance to talk through why it is not safe, rather than taking a more accusatory tone of “don’t do it”.
When caregivers ask, “Won’t my baby get cold?” use this response: “Baby should only have 1 more layer of clothing than an adult when sleeping, like a Halo Sleep Sack.” Caregivers should know a safe option (i.e. the Halo Sleep Sack) and that babies do not need to be bundled in blankets. They will overheat and be at an increased risk of SIDS.
When parents ask about swaddling, share this recommendation: Stop swaddling when a baby develops sufficient motor skills that would allow them to roll from their back to their stomach. (This could be as early as 3 months). Even when swaddled, babies must always be placed on their back.
We were also able to share data from a recent study done by the CDC: Vital Signs: Trends and Disparities in Infant Safe Sleep Practices – United States, 2009-2015
Among reporting mothers (PRAMS):
21.6% reported placing their infant to sleep in a nonsupine position
61.4% shared their bed with their infant
38.5% reported using soft bedding
Noted risk factors:
American Indian or Alaska Native mothers
Non-Hispanic Black mothers
Those under 20 and who have had less education
And we were also able to share with them the new Cribette that Cribs for Kids is providing as a safe sleep option. We had one on-site that partners could see in person and then we watched the following video that shows how to put one up and take it down:
December 11, 2017—SCAN of Northern Virginia has once again achieved “Partner in Prevention” status, a designation awarded by the nonprofit Darkness to Light to organizations which take extra steps to protect the children they serve by training staff to understand the issue of child sexual abuse, identify unsafe situations and practices, and react responsibly in the best interest of the children they serve.
One in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18. SCAN earned the “Partner in Prevention” designation by providing Stewards of Children training to over 90% of its management, staff, and volunteers. This evidence-informed program is scientifically proven to help participants prevent and respond to child sexual abuse. “Partner in Prevention” was created as a national standard to help parents and caregivers recognize organizations that take child protection seriously by implementing policy and training staff to prevent child sexual abuse.
Darkness to Light is an international organization that leads the movement to end child sexual abuse by educating and empowering adults in education, youth serving organizations, and communities to protect children. Darkness to Light has affiliates in all 50 states and 16 international locations.
To learn more about child sexual abuse prevention training or to enroll your organization in Darkness to Light’s “Partner in Prevention” program, please visit www.D2L.org/Partner.
To schedule a training for your organization with SCAN, click here.
About Darkness to Light: Darkness to Light (D2L) has championed the movement to end child sexual abuse since its founding in 2000. With affiliates in all 50 U.S. states and 16 additional countries, D2L provides individuals, organizations, and communities with the tools to protect children from sexual abuse. To date, the D2L network of 9,000 authorized facilitators has trained over 1.2 million parents, youth serving professionals, and organization volunteers in D2L’s award-winning Stewards of Children® child sexual abuse prevention program.
# # #
For further information, please contact Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard at 703-820-9001 or tleonard(at)scanva.org.
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
This fall, SCAN of Northern Virginia is expanding its Operation Safe Babies program to include baby boxes and education through the Baby Box Co. and Baby Box University. We’ve explored the topic of baby boxes in the past, researched safe sleep and devoted much energy to our Operation Safe Babies program. And we know you have questions! Here we share some of the most common questions we’ve received so far. If you have others, please let us know.
1. You already distribute Pack-n-Plays through Operation Safe Babies. Why are you adding Baby Boxes to the mix? Carl Ayers, Director of the Division of Family Services at VDSS, noted at the Virginia Safe Sleep Launch event on August 23, 2017 that safe sleep related deaths are the leading cause of infant deaths, age 1 month to 1 year, in Virginia. For the past two years, SCAN—in partnership with over 12 local agencies—has given out over 700 pack-n-plays to low income families in need of a safe sleep environment for their baby in an effort to reduce this number. By becoming a Baby Box Co. distribution site, SCAN will be able to engage with even more parents, not only to share information on safe sleep and abusive head trauma, but also to connect them with the man other resources that SCAN offers parents.
2. Will Baby Boxes really make an impact?
The Back to Sleep campaign was launched in 1994 by the National Institute of Health. And even though we know that back to sleep is best and reduces the instances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) only 49% of mothers always put their babies on their back to sleep. This recent story underscores the continued need for more education: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/too-parents-still-put-babies-at-risk-of-sids/. In our opinion, this program is not all about the box, it is about engaging parents and caregivers and talking about safe sleep. Education is how we really create change.
3. Baby Boxes aren’t endorsed by the Consumer Product and Safety Commission, are they?
We understand that baby boxes are not fully endorsed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and that a safety approved crib should be the first choice for a parent when practicing safe sleep. But a traditional crib simply is not a viable option for many families in our community. There was a lot of discussion back and forth between SCAN and the Baby Box Co. We feel that our decision is an educated one and supports the overall mission of SCAN as well as Operation Safe Babies. SCAN sees this opportunity to spread our safe sleep and abusive head trauma messaging to a much larger population of new parents that we may not have otherwise been able to serve.
4. Who else is distributing Baby Boxes in Northern Virginia?
SCAN is currently the only organization working with the Virginia Department of Social Services in our region. We hope more agencies will be doing so soon, and will keep you updated! In addition to Virginia, other states who have launched a Baby Box initiative include Alabama, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Colorado.
5. What comes in a Baby Box?
Each Baby Box includes a fitted baby mattress, fitted sheet, waterproof mattress cover and various newborn supplies, as well as our own Operation Safe Babies materials and educational tools.
6. How do parents get a box? How do they know how to use one safely?
Expecting parents can go to www.babyboxuniversity.com and participate in an interactive educational training designed to make sure they know about safe sleep, breast feeding, how to use the baby box, and other important health and developmental information. After successfully taking a quiz at the end of the online training, expecting parents in Northern Virginia will receive a certificate, which they can bring to SCAN to receive one Baby Box filled with a few goodies for baby. When they pick up their box, a SCAN volunteer will go through a checklist of guidelines to confirm they understand safe use. SCAN is distributing boxes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.
If you are interested in learning more about Operation Safe Babies or would like to volunteer with the program, please contact Moneka Lyons, Public Education Outreach Coordinator at mlyons(at)scanva.org.
SCAN has known for years that Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children is an excellent curriculum for teaching all adults how to protect children from child sexual abuse. We have trained close to 1,500 adults in Northern Virginia. However, there is a wider network of Darkness to Light facilitators in Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland that is reaching and training even more adults.
Through our Public Education efforts at SCAN, we convene these facilitators twice a year to share best practices, roadblocks, and skills to become stronger facilitators. In June, I had the honor of training 18 more facilitators. Some will join our efforts here in Northern Virginia (The Young Marines, Northern Virginia Family Services, We Support the Girls, Falls Church City Public Schools), and others will take the training back to their organizations (which included Prince George’s County DSS, Prince George’s County Public Schools, and The James House).
Darkness to Light facilitators know that they have been trained using a curriculum in which attendees are able to immediately implement things they have learned, whether that is reducing one-on-one situations between children and adults, creating policies in our organizations that protect children, or being empowered to intervene in situations where adults are crossing boundaries.
Being a facilitator is a rewarding experience. If you would like to become one, we will be having another training on August 10 in Loudoun County. Register for the training here.
You soon learn you are a part of something bigger – a movement to end child sexual abuse. It can be done.
– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager, tleonard(at)scanva.org
SCAN is often fortunate to have the energy and support of MSW interns on staff. This year, we are thrilled to welcome Chamone Marshall. Wonder what she’s been up to at SCAN so far? We chatted with her this week on the blog:
SCAN: Where are you attending school/for what degree?
CHAMONE: I am currently in my fifth semester at the University of Southern California, working towards a Master of Social Work degree in Community Organization, Planning and Administration (COPA) an elaborate title for macro-level social work. The University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work program guides students through three semesters of field placement, designed to enhance students’ understanding of vulnerable populations, social and economic injustice and pressing societal problems. I am pleased to spend all three semesters as a Master of Social Work intern at SCAN.
MSW Intern Chamone Marshall (right) with SCAN Development Coordinator Sam Hagenow.
SCAN: What at SCAN resonates with you?
CHAMONE: SCAN’s model of engaging the individual, family and community through their child advocacy, parent-education and public education programs is an ideal medium for academic and professional growth. The diverse structure of SCAN has allotted me the opportunity to work on grant applications, revise volunteer outreach media, and attend relevant community events fostering a more thorough understanding of social service agencies.
SCAN: What is your favorite experience at SCAN so far?
CHAMONE: While each task, meeting and event provides unique opportunities, witnessing SCAN’s collaboration with iHeartRadio demonstrated an innovative manner for social service organizations to connect with the communities they serve. The opportunity to hear the career paths of some of Virginia’s leaders in social services, and their expertise on issues ranging from discussing race with children in the midst of a racial charged climate to the continuing impact of adverse childhood experiences, through monthly radio sessions shows how vast non-profits outreach can be, and the many ways that agencies can connect with those in need. The medium of communication, radio, highlighted that serving one’s community extends beyond the identified client, and that when broadcast correctly messaging can reach and benefit individuals who may never come in direct contact with a social service agency.
SCAN: What kinds of projects are you working on? What else do you hope to accomplish/work on during your time at SCAN?
CHAMONE: I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a portion of each of SCAN’s programs, and I hope to continue to contribute as needs arise. To date, I have worked on projects that I’ve had little or no experience in, particularly the research and compilation involved in grant writing, through out the next I hope that SCAN continues to provide new opportunities. Like many SCAN affiliates I am looking forward to Croquet Day, and Toast to Hope and getting to be a part of the behind the scenes elements that make a large scale event a success.
It’s estimated that one in every 122 people in the world has been uprooted from their homes due to conflict or persecution. Here in an increasingly diverse Northern Virginia, we see the impact of immigration, reunification and the refugee crisis on local children and adults. How can we support these families in our community? How can we provide resources to parents and children?
That was the discussion at a joint meeting of our Allies in Prevention Coalition and the Loudoun County Partnership for Resilient Children and Families, where more than 90 service providers gathered to discuss the special experiences, needs and challenges of immigrant and refugee families. What were the key takeaways for service providers moving forward?
Understand the differences between “Immigrant” and “Refugee.” Patricia Maloof from the Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington provided an excellent overview for meeting attendees, including the unique challenges faced by each group. While immigrants make a choice to leave and have options, refugees are fleeing danger, have little time to prepare and often cannot return home. She also touched on another important reminder: “There is diversity within these populations,” said Dr. Maloof, not the least of which is a wide variety of experiences leading up to their immigration or fleeing.
Build on the strengths of families. Immigrants and refugees provide valuable contributions to the economy, education and richness & diversity of a community. Every one of our panel members highlighted the rich diversity that immigrant families can provide to our communities, and underscored that we must overcome our own biases to better assist them as they navigate life in the United States.
Help immigrant parents understand the unique challenges they face. When parents feel isolated, parenting—even life in general—can feel hopeless. Be sure parents understand what they are experiencing is common. Then help them find tools that work for them and their kids. “They can tell their kids, ‘I will give you time and space to get used to life here’,” said panel member Maria Mateus, a Parent Liaison from Fairfax County Public Schools. “They should tell their child they want them to feel safe.”
Get families connected. Parents and children—often far away from their immediate family members—need supportive networks that speak their language, understand their cultural nuances and can act as extended family and friends. They also need to connect with community agencies, which can be frightening. Panel member Lisa Groat, from Ayuda, discussed the ins and outs of how to make sure that families we work with know which benefits they are eligible for as they begin to establish a new life in the United States.
Learn more about the immigrant and refugee experience. Local experts addressed a variety of topics at the meeting, including things like arranged marriage and immigration law. One attendee said that simply being exposed to a discussion about arranged marriage for the first time was incredibly enlightening. “Remember that survivors are resilient,” said Casey Swegman from the Tahirih Justice Center, who led this part of the discussion. We need to be open to learning more about these families so we can better support and celebrate that resiliency.
This is a discussion that will certainly continue among service providers, community members and families in Northern Virginia, thanks in large part to the work of the organizations who participated on our panel. Also consider exploring the Support for Immigrant Parents page on our Parent Resource Center, where you can find fact sheets to share in English and Spanish, as well as listen to a Parenting Today radio show on the topic with Shirley Jones from HACAN.
Most of our readers know that SCAN has three core programs: CASA, Parent Education and Public Education. From abused children already in the system to new parents bringing home a baby to families reunifying after immigration, our programs reach children and families living very different realities. These programs are complex and well-developed and effective. But they’re not always easy to explain. Over the past year, we’ve developed infographics to help us (and help YOU help us) tell the story of our programs and how they impact prevention in our community.
We hope you’ll share this post with others when you talk about SCAN and consider the impact of our prevention programs!
When you hear about child sexual abuse, many thoughts might go through your mind:
“They should go to jail.”
“Parents should keep a closer eye on their children.”
“Who would do that to a child?”
These statements distance us further from what has happened. These thoughts make it easier to dismiss the sexual abuse because it happened to someone else – whether with celebrity status, or it happened a long time ago, or it happened within a certain institution. We believe it will never happen to the children that we know.
We need to shift our thinking though because 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday and 90% of victims are abused by someone they know and trust. The thought that goes through your mind should be, “What can I do to prevent it from happening in the first place?” As parents, professionals, or simply members of the community, we need to learn to recognize the signs of child sexual abuse, react when child sexual abuse is disclosed, and respond. We also need to learn how to prevent it from happening in the first place.
In the case of Josh Duggar, it appears that not only those who are considered mandated reporters failed in their job, but other adults who were aware of what happened, including his parents. So what exactly is a “mandated reporter”? According to our national partner Darkness to Light, “A mandated reporter is one who is required by law to report reasonable suspicions of abuse. Mandated reporters typically include social workers, teachers, health care workers, child care providers, law enforcement, mental health professionals, among others but keep in mind that some states designate all citizens as mandated reporters. Regardless of specific mandated reporters, all persons can and should always reports suspected abuse. It is the job of all adults to protect children.”
It is not the job of a child to protect themselves from strangers or from bad things happening to them. It is the responsibility of the adults in a child’s life to do that. And if a child is sexually abused, or is the one sexually abusing other children, we must know how to react and respond.
“40% of child sexual abuse is by an older, more powerful youth”— www.d2l.org
Do you know how to recognize, react and respond? Within the last 3 years, SCAN has trained over 825 Northern Virginia community members to be Stewards of Children using the curriculum created by Darkness to Light. They know how to recognize, react, and respond. Shouldn’t you?
If you are interested in becoming trained or organizing a training within your organization, please contact me. We cannot do this alone. Children need all of us.
– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager