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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?
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.
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.
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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:
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
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
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.
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.
So 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 Children? Do 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
[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
Some might call Erin Merryn a survivor, an advocate, a hero, or all three.
Erin Merryn is a remarkable, brave young woman. She is the drive behind Erin’s Law, which “requires age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education in grades Pre-kindergarten through 12 along with training school staff on the prevention of sexual abuse.” As of June 2015, 26 states have passed Erin’s Law.
Simply teaching a child about stranger danger and good touch/bad touch is not enough. 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday and 90% will be sexually abused by someone they know and trust. These two statistics alone make the school setting a natural place for children to learn how to speak up if someone – anyone – is crossing safe boundaries or inappropriately touching them. It also makes school faculty and staff the perfect audience to be taught how to protect children and how to respond if a student discloses sexual abuse.
The best protection we can give the children in our lives is to have open and honest conversations with them and, according to Erin’s website, “Erin’s Law empowers children with their voice instead of allowing sex offenders to silence them.”
If you are a school faculty or staff member and haven’t been trained in Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children please contact me. Let’s start a movement in Northern Virginia where any child can report to any trusting adult at school when they feel unsafe or someone has crossed boundaries. Let’s make sure that children know the trusting adult knows how to respond and can prevent others from being harmed.
(For more about Erin Merryn and Erin’s Law, read this profile from The Washington Post.)
To see Erin’s story: Attend a screening of Breaking the Silence on April 12th at the Nannie J. Lee Rec Center in the City of Alexandria or on April 26th at Briar Woods High School in Loudoun County. For more information about these special local screenings during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager