Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Increasing in Sandy Springs, Georgia

Categories: Misc, Other
90% of the SSFD field personnel are now trained in CSA prevention. Credit Kim Cunninghis – Preventing CSA One Adult at a Time

Awareness is rising.  Earlier in the year, the City of Sandy of Springs awarded a grant to theGeorgia Center for Child Advocacy. The purpose of the grant is to train adults on how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

The delivery mechanism to raise awareness, and change behavior, is a program called Stewards of Children (SOC).  The kick-off for prevention started in June with a “Prevent Now!” breakfast hosted by City Councilman Chip Collins and resulted in a number of trainings being scheduled.

St. Jude and Crème de la Crème were among the first youth serving organizations to train members of their staff and faculty. During the latter part of June, a community training was hosted by New York Life and was attended by an assortment of youth serving groups and individuals.

Mary Hall Freedom House, an organization that helps women break the cycle of addiction, poverty, and homelessness, jumped right in and trained both their client base, staff and faculty members.

They have taken another step toward healing society by breaking the cycle of silence. Whether through personal experience, or experiences of those close to them, many of the clients at MHFH have/had some prior exposure to CSA.

The emotional impact of child sexual abuse is often held close to the vest, while the societal impact of CSA is usually unexamined. However, during the discussion portions of the training, it was very powerful to witness women putting those pieces together.

One of the most exciting parts of the training was to see empowerment bestowed. These women now have the tools to prevent child sexual abuse from happening to the children in their lives. They also have a means in which to share their new awareness.

One of the attendees of the training, Tamica Bussey-Roberson, is ready to spread prevention.  She says, “I will be forwarding the literature…to my daughter and son-in-law for additional insight and protection to this terrible epidemic.”

Some people choose to spread prevention by sharing literature and others with their voice.  Heidi Day, a life coach and owner of Chayl Inc. was so impressed with “The 7 Steps” she is going to move forward and become a facilitator herself.

“I have been doing this work for over 10 years and this is the best training that I have experienced dealing with this very difficult subject,” she said. “The mix of profound stats and practical action items makes D2L a user-friendly yet transformative training experience.”

Imagine that, one training motivated a motivator!

Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. That is 20 percent of the population.  Apply that fact to our community and we are looking at 3,200 kids being impacted.

Darkness to Light’s research suggests that the average trained adult will better protect at least ten children from sexual abuse in the years after training.  Let’s think about this for a second, there were 85 adults at the Mary Hall session.

Another group that embraced prevention is our own SSFD. We often think of the Fire Department as the group that puts out fire; but the Sandy Springs Fire Department does so much more. These men and women reach out to our community with safety and public education programs. They see how preventive measures work when they impart their preventive wisdom upon the rest of us.  They are also our first responders to medical emergencies.

Fifty to 90 percent of “cutters” self-report CSA and 20 percent of male survivors report having attempted suicide.  These are important things to keep in mind when responding to a 911 call.

At the end of July, the SSFD held 6 trainings in 3 days.  The resulted in having 90 percent their field personnel trained. The information they received will not only allow them to better protect their families, but their awareness will carry over when dealing with the public. James A. Laudermilk, Crew Chief/CERT Coordinator said, “What the training has done is, it gave me another perspective, and makes me notice more on the outside as it relates to my job.”

The possibilities are endless with a citywide prevention initiative. Imagine living in a city where child sexual abuse cannot hide!

Read the full story on The Sandy Springs Patch.

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