STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Centre County agencies that help children are on a mission to train 5,800 adults on how to prevent child sexual abuse. The program is called The Stewards of Children, and on Monday, dozens of police officers were the pupils.
The NCAA gave Centre County agencies $500,000 for this program. It’s been around for about two years, and once all of the local officers are trained, they’ll be close to their goal.
“Fifty-eight hundred is the tipping point,” said Centre County YMCA Outreach Director Jamie Sanfilippo. “We believe every child in Centre County will be in contact with an adult who has taken this training.”
The YMCA of Centre County provides the Stewards of Children training, and they said it’s an evidence-based program providing tools for the public to help prevent child sex abuse.
“It’s very empowering,” said Sanfilippo.
And now, some of the people who are typically in the front line of child abuse are the pupils.
“Often police officers are first called for child abuse investigations,” said Chris Fishel of the State College police.
Once this round of classes are done, about 5,100 adults will be certified, but organizers said it’s their mission to reach the last 700 needed for their goal by the end of February.
“Whether you’re a parent, teacher, police officer, anybody who has contact with children, who care about children, we recommend training for everyone,” said Sanfilippo.
But they won’t stop there.
Organizers said they will continue to educate as many people as they can, not just in Centre County, but across the state.
There are now 38 YMCAs in Pennsylvania providing the Stewards of Children training.