As we set out to celebrate our 20th year, we could never have guessed the challenges we would face as an organization, a child protection community, and citizens of the world. Still, our momentum has only continued to grow as we strive toward our original vision: a world free of child sexual abuse.
As we reflect on Fiscal Year 2020, we have seen the continued momentum of a movement that is not backing down and cannot be silenced or discouraged – whose actions speak louder than words. Time and time again, you have shown us that you are a courageous partner in this effort. Below are some highlights from Fiscal Year 2020:
- On February 7, 2020 Darkness to Light celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a VIP Luncheon in Charleston, SC where Darkness to Light was founded 20 years ago. The luncheon recognized the legacy of the founders, facilitators, and supporters of Darkness to Light who laid a solid foundation for child sexual abuse prevention in our community. The event culminated in a proclamation by Charleston First Lady Sandy Tecklenburg honoring Sunday, February 9th as Darkness to Light Day in Charleston. “Darkness to Light has had a tremendous, lasting impact on the Lowcountry and particularly on the health and wellbeing of our children,” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg. Because of Darkness to Light’s efforts, the City of Charleston was the first city to train over 90% of all municipal employees to protect children, becoming the first city to achieve Partner in Prevention status. Here’s to 20 more!
- In June 2020, after the death of George Floyd and countless other Black lives, Darkness to Light made a commitment to fight for all vulnerable communities. We believe that at the end of the day, to fight for one right, the right to a childhood free of abuse, while ignoring other rights, such as equity and justice for black lives, is not acceptable. We will not only stand in solidarity with diverse partners, allies, and Black communities but we will act in solidarity, demonstrating our commitment to improving access and amplifying Black voices and experiences. We will champion justice and human rights. See our President & CEO’s statement here.
- In the 15 years since Stewards of Children® first launched, we have seen an incredible community response. Concerned adults around the world have taken up the call to action to protect children and prevent child sexual abuse. This Fiscal Year we have hit 1.95 million adults trained and counting. Because of the continued momentum of our training numbers, we are excited to announce a bold goal: training another 50,000 adults by December 31, 2020. Let’s ring in 2021 right with an army of 2 Million advocates for children!
- Our partnership with the Monique Burr Foundation for Children was formalized in September 2019, and together we formed Prevent 360º. Prevent 360° offers organizations and communities the highest quality prevention programs for adults and youth, backed by evidence and research. “It’s a powerful partnership that demonstrates the alignment in philosophies between our organizations. Adults must accept the responsibility of preventing child sexual abuse, and kids must receive the tools they need to help adults keep them safe,” said Katelyn Brewer, President and CEO of Darkness to Light. “Prevent 360° is our collective commitment to communities nation-wide. We are proud to partner with MBF.” Prevent 360° is ideal for daycares and schools, child advocacy centers, youth sports and other youth-serving organizations, and faith-based groups. The complementary skills taught through Prevent 360° give children and adults a common language and expectation that can help keep children safe. To learn more about Prevent 360° visit here.
- People with intellectual disabilities are disproportionately impacted by sexual abuse, as well as the long-term impacts of this adverse experience. In January 2020, Darkness to Light partnered with the Special Olympics, with critical support from the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, to develop a targeted sexual abuse prevention curriculum that supports people with disabilities so they can lead healthy and safe lives. Our goal is to build a comprehensive curriculum by the end of 2021 that will offer specific guidance and actions to anyone with ties to the disabilities community or willing to expand their prevention practices to help protect this population. The comprehensive curriculum is expected to be built out in four major stages, each building on the previous curriculumandresources to provide a full, 2-hour training. Our first stage, which we’re developing now for an anticipated fall 2020 release to Special Olympics, sets the foundation for sexual abuse prevention for people with intellectual disabilities. It also incorporates Special Olympics’ policies and materials to offer specific guidance for their athletes, staff, volunteers, and supporters.
- In June 2020, along with our partners Together for Girls, Child USA, the National Children’s Alliance and many more – we publicly launched the #KeepKidsSafe Campaign to raise awareness about the urgent need to prioritize abuse prevention and response for children experiencing the consequences of COVID-19. We are urgently calling on Congress to invest at least $300 million to strengthen child safety and protection programs in the next COVID-19 relief package. Keep Kids Safe is also asking the public to support this effort by signing the advocacy letter, reaching out to their representatives, sharing their support on social media, and learning how to prevent violence against children.
- IGNITE 2019 was held in Framignham, MA in October 2019. The two-day conference had around 200 attendees and highlighted child protection efforts from across the country, as well as inspired new approaches and ideas. Conference attendees also participated in thought-provoking, interactive sessions led by some of the most respected experts in child sexual abuse prevention. The conference offered four session tracks – individual, organizational, public health, and legal – giving attendees fresh ideas to take back to their communities and better protect children. Keynote speakers included Marci Hamilton, JD, MA the Founder, CEO, & Academic Director of Child USA, Aly Raisman, Champion Gymnast, and Advocate, and Elliot Carlyle, a New York City-based branding and creative consultant and founder of the brand. the voice. IGNITE 2020 has been postponed to April 27-28th, 2021 in Charleston, SC.
- We launched a new training resource, Protecting Children During a Crisis, in response to the unique challenges of keeping kids safe during COVID-19. We have specifically designed this training to help parents and caregivers navigate through the unusual circumstances they may be facing due to our current global health crisis. The training, provided at no cost in both English and Spanish, takes 30 minutes and can be taken online at any time. Since we launched on March 31, more than 6,000 individuals have registered for the training. Talk about picking up momentum!
- At Darkness to Light, we are constantly discussing ways to think outside the box and creatively reach more people with prevention. COVID-19 and national stay-at-home orders confirmed our community’s interest in additional modalities for our flagship program, Stewards of Children®. If we can’t meet in person, our facilitators asked, how can we train? We realized that to hold facilitator-led trainings online, there needs to be a virtual solution to the in-person discussion, which is an important part of our in-person training. The discussion allows organizations and communities to discuss real-life scenarios in their communities and how they can work together to better protect kids. We asked ourselves, “How can we respond to this need while still ensuring that Stewards of Children® is facilitated effectively, efficiently, and to fidelity?” In response:
- We launched a way for Authorized Facilitators to hold Webinar Debriefs of Online Stewards of Children®. This modality, available in English and Spanish, allows facilitators to hold webinars that bring together participants who have already completed Stewards of Children® online for a discussion. Facilitators were asked to complete a preliminary training webinar, and were given a script to add to their toolbox for the online discussions.
- In April, Darkness to Light began the process of creating a protocol for a pilot of virtual facilitated training. In June, we launched the pilot with 30 facilitators. We have been collecting data and incorporating feedback from the pilot group into the process. We are now building out a Virtual Facilitator Training, a prerequisite for hosting virtual trainings and will look to launch this modality in early July. Virtual training will allow facilitators to reach hard to reach communities and allow more people to interact with child sexual abuse prevention.
This Fiscal Year brought new visibility in the media and on social media!
- TODAY – Aly Raisman responds to USA Gymnastics President’s Comments
- Women’s Health – Aly Raisman is Once Again Going to the Mat – This Time to Fight for Survivors of Sexual Assault
- Nashville Public Radio – For Male Victims of Child Sexual Abuse, Untreated Trauma Can Lead to Run-Ins with the Law
- Diversity Magazine SC
- Elizabeth Smart Foundation Podcast featuring Darkness to Light
- Teen Vogue – Instagram Live with Aly Raisman
- Instagram Live with Alysia Reiner – Home Should be Safe
- Dear… Aly Raisman, part of the Dear… docuseries from Apple TV
- Instagram Live with Aly Raisman and Katelyn Brewer
- Sheen Magazine: Protecting Children During a Crisis
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