2021 was another year of uncertainty and unfamiliar experiences. However, while we were faced with new hurdles, we also made great strides–especially when it comes to protecting kids from sexual abuse. As we reflect on the last twelve months at Darkness to Light, we are encouraged: we are looking at a future where kids are safer than ever, and this momentum is not slowing down.
Because you have spoken up and taken a stand, we have been able to accomplish some amazing things together. Take a look at these highlights in child protection from the last year:
In February, champion gymnast and advocate Aly Raisman joined Woodward Camps as the gymnastics Program Designer and together we have teamed up to create safer gymnastic experiences for young athletes. For more than 50 years, Camp Woodward has been the epicenter of the gymnastics community – one that includes more than 95 competitive gymnasts who have appeared on the world’s largest stages. A true leader in and out of the gym, Aly is not only a fierce competitor but also a champion for a safer and more positive gymnastics community. Woodward shares Aly’s commitment to athlete safety and have joined her in partnership with Darkness to Light to provide abuse prevention education to all staff through Stewards of Children® and are working with the Darkness to Light team to create a customized safeguarding plan that embeds prevention into both their organizational culture as well as the physical environment.
In April, we hosted our first virtual prevention conference, IGNITE 2021. Presented by the Monique Burr Foundation for Children, the conference brought together sexual abuse prevention leaders from across the country for the common goal of making communities safer for children. In addition to the adjustment of adapting to virtual delivery of keynotes, plenaries, and networking opportunities, we also teamed up with the Moore Center for the Prevention of child sexual abuse as a content partner. Together, we offered IGNITE 2021 and the Moore Center symposium Child Sexual Abuse: A Public Health Perspective in a single event lasting three days. Founded in 2012, the Moore Center is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to creating a public health approach to preventing child sexual abuse. Over 250 attendees enjoyed keynotes from Rabbi Avremi Zippel, Rachael Denhollander, Alexandra Zarini, Dr. Helena Duch and Brigette De Lay, and Dr. Michael Seto.
July-October (and ongoing!)
Over the summer, the Darkness to Light Curriculum team developed and began producing a new hybrid training called Beyond Stewards of Children. Targeted specifically towards Youth-Serving Organizations, this training is for previous Stewards of Children® trainees seeking to build their prevention knowledge base. Beyond does as its name suggests: it goes beyond the initial concepts presented in Stewards of Children® by digging deeper into practical applications of the 5 Steps to Protecting Children™. It takes more of an active learning approach, which research shows engages learners in deep- rather than surface-learning and enables learners to apply and transfer knowledge better. Beyond also presents new content on creating prevention-oriented communities and applying trauma-informed strategies to prevention.
Beyond Stewards of Children was created in partnership with SCARS Bermuda. Filming occurred in Bermuda during the summer of 2021 with various experts, youth-serving organization members, parents, and survivors. Pilot testing commenced in October.
Champion gymnast and Darkness to Light partner Aly Raisman premiered a three-hour documentary special, Aly Raisman: Darkness to Light, on September 24 at 8p/7c on Lifetime. This special reveals the tumultuous journey to healing from the perspective of sexual abuse survivors, following the three-time Olympic gold medalist as she advocates for survivors while sharing personal accounts and coping strategies that have helped on her own journey of healing.
In addition to providing experts and data for the documentary, Darkness to Light developed a comprehensive viewer’s guide for reflecting on Aly Raisman: Darkness to Light. It contains information about essential themes, questions to consider, ways to prepare yourself for what you watch, and resources that may be useful after viewing. Other resource include Raisman’s Darkness to Light campaign, Flip the Switch, which makes prevention education available at no cost.
Oak Foundation funded Darkness to Light with $2.5 million for two years to support expanded operations with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), as well as the work of the Keep Kids Safe movement in the United States. Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, Oak Foundation makes grants to organizations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.
This grant award supports two vital efforts: first, the expansion of Darkness to Light’s long-term DEI strategy and the integration of DEI‐focused policies and practices into the organization’s operations. Secondly, the award supports a national campaign to mobilize federal legislation to end child sexual abuse through the Keep Kids Safe movement.
In honor of National Native American Heritage Month, Darkness to Light President and CEO Katelyn Brewer sat down for an Honest Conversation with Dr. Kelly Hallman and Kimee Wind-Hummingbird, leading experts in child safety from the Cherokee and Muscogee Nations. During this special virtual event, they discussed the unique challenges and approaches in child safety within Native American communities, especially with a lens on the past. Watch the full event on our Facebook page.
On the inaugural worldwide #EndChildSexAbuseDay, the Keep Kids Safe movement launched the U.S. National Blueprint to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents. Through this agenda for action, the movement calls on the U.S. Federal Government to act immediately to keep children safe through comprehensive prevention, healing, and justice initiatives. Working together, and with bold action from the U.S. government, Keep Kids Safe believes we can end sexual violence against children now and for generations to come.
Formed in 2020, the Keep Kids Safe is a powerful national movement of organizations, survivors, and allies including The Army of Survivors, CHILD USA, Darkness to Light, The Monique Burr Foundation for Children, the National Children’s Alliance, Prevent Child Abuse America, RAINN, SNAP, and Together for Girls.
“There is no more time to wait. The current patchwork of child safeguarding laws in the United States does not provide children, victims, and survivors the uniform access to prevention, healing, and justice that they deserve. We can end this, but we must do it together,” said Katelyn N. Brewer, President and CEO of Darkness to Light.
In Your Newsfeed:
- Crime Junkie Podcast – Darkness to Light x Child Abuse Prevention Month
- About Consent Podcast with Darkness to Light President & CEO Katelyn Brewer
- Bar Fights Podcast – Katelyn Brewer with victims rights attorney Sarah Klein
- Salon – “Aly Raisman: Darkness to Light” wields celebrity to empower all survivors
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