District officials announced this week that 100-percent of the district’s employees have completed child sexual abuse prevention training sponsored by Charleston-based Darkness to Light (D2L). The program began in January, 2009, reaching out to all of the district’s 2,900 employees, including teachers, administrators, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and other staff.
Dorchester 2 Superintendent Joe Pye said trainings are vital to protecting children from one of society’s most devastating, yet overlooked abuse crimes. He said 34 district employees have completed additional D2L training to become Facilitators (instructors) of D2L’s “Stewards of Children” prevention program.
“Prevention training does an excellent job of focusing your observation skills to protect children,” said Pye. “If we can stop the victimization of even one child, it is worth all the effort. We applaud our district employees who responded overwhelmingly to complete the training.”
Dorchester 2 joins an elite group of South Carolina school districts to have trained 100-percent of staff; only Lexington 3, Florence 4 and Marion 1 and 2 have also achieved the milestone. Locally, both Charleston County and Berkeley County school districts have pledged to train their entire staffs.
South Carolina schools as a whole lead the nation in prevention training. About 40-percent of the state’s 54,000 school staff (20,000) completed D2L’s training by the end of 2009, setting a national record among U.S. school systems. By the end of 2010, state officials anticipate more than 38,000 (75-percent) school teachers and school employees will complete the training.
Prevention training for teachers, administrators and school staff was launched statewide in 2008 by the S.C. Department of Education in partnership with D2L. Dr. Jim Rex, S.C. Department of Education Superintendent pointed out immediate results through teacher awareness.
“We had a teacher who noticed a student’s behavior matched several of the warning signs,” said Dr. Rex. “Because of the training, the teacher knew what to look for and, more importantly, knew what action steps to take to protect the child, who was later determined to have been sexually abused.
“The more teachers and staff we educate, the closer we move to being able to prevent child sexual abuse from happening altogether,” he said.