The program, developed by the Darkness to Light organization, provides parents and other adults who care for or come into contact with children, with the tools to recognize and respond appropriately to suspected child sexual abuse.
Flor Lopez, James House’s Children and Youth Education coordinator, facilitated the training, which highlighted the important choice every adult must make to proactively take steps to confront the issue.
“We can’t remain quiet when we see something,” said Lopez. “Perpetrators count on children to keep the secret and on adults to remain oblivious to the signs and/or be unwilling to address the issue head on.”
Lopez reminded audience members that it is not their job to investigate allegations but to listen to the child, believe him or her, offer support, not over-react, not make promises to the child that they may not be able to keep, and to report the situation to the proper authorities.
Training participants learned the five steps to protecting children: learn the facts, minimize opportunity, talk about it, recognize the signs, and react responsibility. The group engaged in discussions about what these steps look like in the real world.
“It’s scary to think about having to confront this issue, but I feel better equipped now,” said one attendee. “I feel more confident that I will know what to do if a child confides in me or I suspect abuse is happening.”