YMCAs Continue Efforts to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

Categories: Misc

The article below originally appeared on March 2, 2016 in the online version of the Lexington, NC Dispatch

The J. Smith Young YMCA and Tom A. Finch Community YMCA have joined together in an effort to train five percent of the Davidson County adult population in families, schools and youth serving organizations with Darkness to Light’s “Stewards of Children” child sexual abuse prevention program.

As of Feb. 15, approximately 2,200 adults have been trained, laying the foundation for a proactive, community wide approach to prevention, according to a press release. This builds momentum toward educating and empowering all adults to protect children.

In the United States, one in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18, making this likely the most prevalent health problem children face, with the most serious array of consequences, the release said. In over 90 percent of incidents, children are abused by someone they know, but in Davidson County adults are being trained to create environments that reduce the risk for abuse and allow children to learn, play and worship in safety.

Leaders of both YMCAs congratulate the adults who have already completed the training and especially appreciate all three school systems in the county (Davidson County, Thomasville and Lexington) committing to have 100 percent of their staff trained.

Building upon Malcolm Gladwell’s tipping point research, Darkness to Light encourages every community to educate five percent of its population to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse, providing a foundation for widespread social change.

“Five percent is a small, attainable goal that has dramatic effects on community prevention efforts,” said Darkness to Light director of programs Cindy McElhinney. “This is the point when we see training initiatives take a life of their own, and we applaud Davidson County for their efforts to create a community where children can grow and thrive.”

“The commitment by our school systems to train 100 percent of staff is particularly powerful,” said Mary Jane Akerman, Darkness to Light facilitator and Thomasville City Schools employee. “Not only has that commitment been instrumental in reaching the 2,200 trained in Davidson County, but the impact goes far beyond. School staff are on the frontlines in providing safe places for our children. Teachers also serve as role models within our community. The challenge now goes out to others in Davidson County to be trained in Darkness to Light. Child care organizations, churches and all youth-serving organizations should consider requiring this training for all staff.”

Interested people can complete the online training atwww.tinyurl.com/d2ldavidson. They can also schedule a group, in-person training by contacting Darkness to Light facilitators Akerman (akermanmj@gmail.com) or Orla Kelly-Rajan (okellyrajan@gmail.com). The cost is $10 per person whether online or in person.

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