OSB_blogimage_may2015We say it over and over: Parenting can be tough. From the first day a child comes home from the hospital, parents face decisions and schedules and subjects they most likely have never even thought about before. It’s a time when parents — especially those in high-risk families with few community connections — need all of the support they can get.

So do their babies.

That’s where Operation Safe Babies comes in. With support from CareFirst and through a partnership with Cribs for Kids, SCAN’s newest program will focus on educating parents about safe sleep for infants, providing cribs for families in need and delivering resources for families in Northern Virginia.

Child abuse prevention programs function at all points along the continuum of children’s lives, whether they’re infants or teens. But there is something compelling about programs that start at the very beginning. Operation Safe Babies will allow us to connect with parents at the start of their experience, being there to tell them “yes, this can be hard,” and “no, you’re not alone.”

This month our Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard met with teen parents at TC Williams High School and will gather over 20 service providers together at Inova Fairfax Hospital to pilot the training program. In the coming months, SCAN will provide 200 infants in our community with safe cribs. We’ll work with community partner organizations to provide parents of infants with specially developed educational materials and resources on Safe Sleep and Abusive Head Trauma.

We will start, again and again, at the beginning of hundreds of children’s lives. As prevention advocates, we can think of no better place to be.

— Sarah Self, Public Education Coordinator

If you are interested in hosting a training or learning more about the program, please contact Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard at 703-820-9001 or tleonard@scanva.org.

PIP-Seal-Orange-Updated-12-18-14

Last week, our national partner Darkness to Light posted a guest blog by Svava Brooks, a child sexual abuse survivor and prevention advocate. We’re sharing it here today because it paints an excellent picture of how simple, necessary and courageous it can be to protect the children in our families and communities when we notice something that doesn’t quite feel right:

(Originally posted at d2lblog.com)

“I have trained thousands of adults and provided facilitator trainings for D2L in three countries. Not only do I teach others about child sexual abuse, but I also practice what I teach. And I’ve had several opportunities.

The most challenging occurred at a gathering of family and friends in my home. One of the older men suddenly touched my daughter in an inappropriate way. She had been sitting on the couch, talking to this man. When my daughter stood up to leave, the man reached over and smacked her on the butt. Before you decide that I overreacted, I want to let you know that before this moment, this man had made me uncomfortable because of how he would speak about my kids and their development. I was paying attention. There were already clues, and standing right there – watching it happen – it was clear what his intention was.

My daughter was 13 at the time. Her entire body stiffened and froze, as she looked across the room at me. This wasn’t something I could ignore. So I took action in a way that let my daughter know she could count on her mother to protect her from harm. With my daughter standing next to me, I told the man what he had done was inappropriate and not allowed. I informed him I would share this incident with other family members so they could protect their kids. Then I hugged my daughter.

I acted quickly because I needed to be courageous for my daughter. It was an empowering moment for me, doing for her what the adults in my life didn’t do for me when I was a child.”

– Read Svava’s full blog post at: http://www.d2lblog.com/2015/04/28/coming-to-my-daughters-rescue/#sthash.XxOt2avm.dpuf

Do you have more questions about child sexual abuse prevention? Is your community group, sports organization, child care center or faith group equipped to take action for the children in your care? Contact SCAN at info@scanva.org to learn more about our work with Darkness to Light to educate and empower adults in Northern Virginia.

DoorClingIn the Greater Prince William County area, there is a unique organization called The Child Protection Partnership. It is a group of human service workers, non-profit organizations, county employees, early childhood educators, parks and recreation staff, school employees, and concerned citizens that meet monthly. SCAN is fortunate to be a part of it as well. At these monthly meetings, we get to the nitty gritty of what is going on in Prince William County, Manassas Park, and the City of Manassas but perhaps more importantly, we DO something about it.

One example surrounds the issue of parents and caregivers leaving children in cars. The CPP wanted to do something about this, working to make sure that it is not happening in the community and if it is, that people know how to respond. We all came to the table with ideas, financial support, and thoughts about how we would get the messaging into the community. All of that was finessed into a newly initiated campaign. We have created window clings that businesses and organizations can put on their front doors, Kids and Cars materials (www.kidsandcars.org), display information that we can take to various community events, and unique giveaway materials for parents and caregivers so that they are reminded to never leave children alone in cars.

If you are in the Greater Prince William area and would like to have a cling for your business or organization, please contact Jo Anne Renton at jrenton@pwcgov.org.

— Tracy Leonard, Public Education Manager

P.S. If you’re interested in new opportunities to network and connect with others in your own community in Northern Virginia, we invite you to learn more about our Allies in Prevention Coalition!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetWhen SCAN moved its offices last month, one of the benefits was a new (larger) space for providing community trainings. As a staff, we started dreaming of the new ways this space could enlarge our circle of trained facilitators, volunteers and leaders.

Every time we train an adult, our children gain a connection that could make all the difference. 

Tomorrow SCAN will participate in Spring2Action, a 24-hour online fundraiser in Alexandria, to raise funds that will allow us to continue (and grow) our training programs. We’ll also open the new Carol Cleary Community Training Room at our first Open House since moving.  It’s a moment we’ve long been waiting for, and for good reason — we have bold dreams for this space. Expanded trainings will give us opportunities to:

  • Train people to PREVENT child abuse before it starts: Last year, SCAN reached hundreds of parents through our parenting classes and support groups. With a focus on building support networks and teaching nurturing skills, our Parent Education Program uses trainings to prepare volunteers to work with families as well as parent leaders to facilitate groups, grow trust among parents and build connections for kids and parents in their own communities.
  • Train people to STOP child sexual abuse: Since 2012, SCAN has trained more than 600 adults using the Stewards of Children program from Darkness to Light. Our goal is to educate and empower adults to understand their responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse, and then to recognize, react and respond to it in our community.
  • Train people to ADVOCATE for abused and neglected children: When an abused or neglected child enters the court system, SCAN’s Alexandria/Arlington CASA Program provides a trained volunteer to advocate on his or her behalf. This powerful program gives a voice to the child through a volunteer who is extensively trained to focus exclusively on the child’s wellbeing and best interests.

Trainings like these take space. They take time and supplies and staff support. They take incredible volunteers and people willing to attend. And they are worth every ounce of effort. We know that the people walking out of our trainings — from parent educators to “Stewards of Children” to CASA volunteers — gain the knowledge to prevent and stop abuse, or the power to speak up on behalf of children already suffering the effects of abuse and neglect.

This one room has given us the capacity to train more people, to protect more children, to impact an even wider circle of our community.

There is true power in educating and empowering more individuals in the prevention of child abuse and neglect. And it can start with just one room. And people like you.

— Sarah Self, Public Education Coordinator

#CCCTrainingRoom

IMG_0909Last Thursday afternoon SCAN’s Executive Director, Sonia Quiñónez, spoke before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at one of its public hearings on the county’s FY 2016 budget. The FY 2016 budget proposed by Fairfax County Executive Ed Long makes devastating cuts to the county’s child abuse prevention services. Sonia called on the Board of Supervisors to maintain current local funding for Healthy Families Fairfax, Good Touch/Bad Touch, and the Parent Education Program, emphasizing that funding child abuse prevention services is not just the right thing to do; it is also a smart, efficient use of local taxpayers’ money.

The county executive’s proposed budget for FY 2016 would completely eliminate local funding ($1.6 million) for Fairfax’s Healthy Families program, a program backed by decades of research showing that it decreases incidences of child abuse and neglect, improves maternal and child health outcomes, and improves parent-child bonding, children’s cognitive development, and school readiness. The Healthy Families program is among the most reputable home-visiting child maltreatment prevention programs, specifically serving parents-to-be and new parents who have been determined to be at high-risk of child maltreatment. Since Healthy Families Fairfax (HFF) began 1991, it has served over 3,000 at-risk families. In its 24 years, less than 1% of the families served by HFF have been identified in “founded” cases of child abuse or neglect.

The county executive also proposes completely eliminating funding ($85,000) for the Good Touch/Bad Touch program, the only county-wide program that teaches children about body safety, sexual abuse, and protective skills. Even the Parent Education Program, which offers parenting classes to parents, 34% of whom are referred by Child Protective Services and Foster Care and Adoption, could lose approximately 50% ($216,000) of its funding from the county in the proposed budget.

We at SCAN are very concerned about how these cuts would impact vulnerable children in our community. If the Board of Supervisors agrees to eliminate funding for HFF, over 600 families in our community, who are at high-risk of child maltreatment, will lose services. If it eliminates funding for GTBT, the need for child-centered education about sexual abuse and prevention may go unmet. And if it cuts funding for the PEP in half, 200 families with 255 children will no longer have access to parenting classes.

As if the damaging impact to vulnerable children and families was not enough, SCAN believes that these cuts will negatively impact the future of our community as a whole. It costs Fairfax County $3,473 per family to serve a family in HFF, which all but eliminates the chance that their children will be abused or neglected. It costs the county just $1,480 per family to provide parenting classes. SCAN worries that, without HFF, GTBT, and PEP, more children in our community will experience abuse and neglect, and end up in foster care or worse. Fairfax County spends an average of $78,658 per child in foster care placements. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that over the course of an individual’s life, the community spends $210,012 per victim of nonfatal child maltreatment, and $1,272,900 per death due to child maltreatment.

SCAN will continue to advocate for the protection of local funds for child abuse prevention services in Fairfax County, as well as in Prince William County, where the county executive has also proposed completely eliminating local funding for Healthy Families Prince William. YOU CAN ALSO MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Fairfax County and Prince William County residents can contact their representatives to their board of supervisors and call on them to maintain funding for child abuse prevention programs. Non-residents can help by spreading the word to family, friends, and coworkers who live in Fairfax or Prince William counties.

> Find the contact information for your Fairfax County supervisor here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/government/board/

> Find the contact information for your Prince William County supervisor here: http://www.pwcgov.org/government/bocs/Pages/BOCS-Landing-Page.aspx

L-12-MOMENTSINVA-022815We’re wrapping up the first full week of Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time filled with planting pinwheel gardens to raise awareness, providing prevention trainings with partners in Alexandria and sharing our Kids Need Connections campaign materials with thousands across the region.

But it’s important we pause in our hectic schedules to remember why we do all of this work. Consider these statistics from Prevent Child Abuse Virginia:

  • 1 baby is born in Virginia every 5 minutes.
  • 1 child becomes homeless in Virginia every 14 minutes.
  • 1 child drops out of school in Virginia every 60 minutes.
  • Every 77 minutes, a child is abused or neglected in Virginia.
  • In an average moment, there are 4,475 children in foster care in Virginia.

Our work focuses on Northern Virginia, and we know that some of the children in these statistics are OUR CHILDREN. They attend our schools, live in our neighborhoods, maybe even have dinner at our tables. They are the reason we do so much this month and all year long to focus on CONNECTION and PREVENTION.

April is an important month at SCAN, but not because we’ve filled our schedule with events and ordered extra pinwheels and have our name in local newspapers. It’s important because it’s a very special opportunity to change those statistics. To change the lives of our community’s children, whom we are all responsible for.

We hope you’ll help.

Wondering how you can get involved? Volunteer, plant a pinwheel garden or make a donation on April 22nd during Spring2Action, one incredible day of giving. 

Every spring, SCAN celebrates five individuals from each region of Northern Virginia at its annual Allies in Prevention Awards Luncheon. The award winners (there have been more than 60 since the awards began in 2003!) have come from all walks of life — from social workers and foster parents to judges and doctors — and each have made unique efforts to prevent child abuse and strengthen families in their communities and beyond.

This year, five more individuals were selected by a task force of SCAN’s Allies in Prevention Coalition and they are another remarkable group of heroes for children and families:

  • Laurie_BandWLaurie Meyer was the founding Team Leader for Alexandria’s Community Wraparound Team in the Department of Community and Human Services until 2014. For 24 years — she began as a social worker in 1990 — she provided incredible children’s behavioral health services for the most at-risk children in her community. The Community Wraparound Team she founded and her development of its programming have transformed how the city serves (and thinks about) its most at-risk families. “As far as I’m concerned,” noted one community partner, “Laurie is the center of Alexandria’s System of Care.”  Studies note that whenever possible, the best place for children is in their community with family-driven and youth-led service plans. Laurie knew this, and worked with intense dedication to create a system of care that was best for the children. In 2008, Alexandria had 66 children in congregant care. Today, there are only six. “We recognize that without Laurie’s wisdom and leadership,” said her nominators, “this would not have been possible.” Even during personal illness, Laurie remained committed to the children and families of Alexandria. Last September, she passed away at the age of 53 leaving behind a husband and three daughters as well as many close family members and colleagues. But the children of Alexandria will be touched by Laurie’s work and compassion for generations to come.
  • Jennifer_BandWJennifer Landis-Santos is a Parent & Youth Workshop Facilitator, Program Coordinator and Mental Health Therapist for Arlington County. In that multi-faceted position she administers a grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Families (which she won) to help the county provide parenting classes and other programs for youth and families, and also coordinates the Strengthening Families parenting program in Arlington. But her passionate commitment to children goes far beyond her work in Arlington. Jennifer also founded Career Definitions, a project which provides tools to help youth plan for future careers, stay connected with parents during the college application process and go on “Career Tours,” opportunites for students to see jobs up close in the DC area. Focused on positive interactons between children and parents, the initiative helps youth believe in themselves and strengthens families to provide support. “Jennifer’s dedication to serving families, generous commitment to helping children and her respect for ALL persons is reflected in the response the families have to her work and initiatives,” noted her nominator. Jennifer also sits on the board of HACAN (Hispanics Against Abuse and Neglect). She and her husband, Carmelo, have two young children.
  • Cheryl_BandWCheryl Keiper has witnessed some incredible changes in Fairfax County over the past three decades. Today she supervises the county’s Parent Education Programs, but her experience also includes work as a CPS caseworker and a Foster Care & Adoption specialist. Perhaps it’s those first experiences that ignited her passion for prevention through parent education. “I have never known anyone who believes in the importance and impact of parenting programs as strongly as Cheryl,” notes her nominator. For 16 years, Cheryl has managed a rapidly growing parent education program in the county. In 2000, the county offered 13 classes and reached 127 families. Last year, it was 40 classes reaching nearly 400 families! But it’s not just about numbers; Cheryl was committed to improving the programming for an increasingly diverse community. Under her leadership, the county added three African American Culture curricula, a variety of new targeted classes for specific parenting groups and Spanish-language classes. Cheryl’s belief in connections with families kept her facilitating classes even when she was managing the program, and when her workload grew she remained committed to visiting every class in person. Her work with faith-based organizations, community centers and schools also helped grow the program and provided a wonderful example of private-public collaboration. This May, Cheryl will retire after 39 years serving children and families, but her inspiration will continue to impact the program. “For Cheryl,“ notes her nominator, “serving families has not just been a job; it has been her passion.”
  • DONNA_BandWDonna Fortier has long been an active citizen in Loudoun County. But four years ago, she took a bold new step. While working as the Director of Community Affairs at Inova Loudoun Hospital, Donna became aware of a staggering statistic — though living in one of the nation’s richest counties, over 1,100 children were identified as precariously housed, homeless, or at risk. She immediately launched the Mobile Hope Program to improve access to care and break down service barriers, while working to meet the daily needs of this often “invisible” population. Donna soon left her position with Inova to focus on growing Mobile Hope, knowing that the program could forever impact at-risk youth in Loudoun County. “Donna’s passion to protect children is evident in everything she does,” notes her nominator. Last year Mobile Hope served more than 550 diverse youth every month in Loudoun County, distributing thousands of clothing and hygiene items as well as more than 11,000 meals and bags of food. In addition, Mobile Hope provides services that can reduce family stress. “Our job is to help these young people so they don’t become invisible,” notes Donna. “We strive to make their lives easier so they have an opportunity to succeed.”
  • Kristiana_BandWKristiana Poole is a Victim Advocate for Quantico Marine Base’s Family Advocacy Program (FAP), and in just three short years has made an incredible impact on both its programs and the families it serves. Bringing experiences from Child Protective Services and Empower House, where she was a community victim advocate, Kristiana now facilitates the highest number of groups ever offered by the FAP. In addition to workshops and classes, she is also the primary abuse prevention trainer for the base’s two Child Development Centers. Kristiana also piloted a SAFE Dates program for students last year, and has been instrumental in other programs for children including a psycho-educational group called Stepping Up to the Challenge and a REAL Talk for Girls Group. “Kristiana always presents as enthusiastic and flexible,” notes her nominator, “with a contagious positive attitude towards her duties.”  Those duties have included everything from absorbing cases and on-call duties to organizing a training on human trafficking with Department of Homeland Security. During Kristiana’s work, Marine Corps Headquarters recognized Quantico FAP as leading the USMC in providing direct services to children.

So many of the people working in child abuse prevention are going above and beyond in their efforts with children, parents and families across Northern Virginia. The Allies in Prevention Awards are one small way we can celebrate and lift up the stories of those making the connections for children that are changing lives. We encourage professionals to stay connected with SCAN by joining our Allies in Prevention Coalition and using our Kids Need Connections campaign in their own communities.

11050284_10152739148935735_1822931701725045529_oThis month SCAN’s Allies in Prevention Coalition held a quarterly meeting with one question in mind: How can we be more intentional about making the time and effort to connect with the kids in our lives? 

As discussion continued, it became clear that as resource providers, we think about this almost constantly. But we’re thinking about it as parents and colleagues as well. Are there simple ways — both in our work with children and families and in our own families — that we can make connections more possible? Are there simple games and activities that can help us build our connections on a daily basis, whether it’s with the children in our own lives or those we serve as professionals?

Yes!

SCAN Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard led a vibrant discussion of ideas, including suggestions like:

  • Simple “Bright Beginnings” and “Happy Ending” questions to use every day around the dinner table, in the classroom, etc. that help spark discussion and guide adults to listen to their children
  • “I’m Special” body tracings, where children are given an outline of their bodies to fill in with words and pictures detailing what they like about themselves
  • Children’s Stories that Build Resiliency, such as The Invisible String by Patrice Karst, with questions to discuss how a child is connected with others in their life as well as an activity (making an invisible string bracelet) to reinforce the discussion in a lasting way

For a complete list of the activities covered in Tracy’s presentation, download the Activities with Intention PDF here.

In April, we’ll kick off the 2015 Northern Virginia Child Abuse Prevention campaign during National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Stay tuned for more about our Kids Need Connections campaign, a special focus on fathers and connections, and many more ideas about being intentional as we build connections with the children in our communities. (Follow the campaign on social media with #kidsneedconnections!)

parentingclasslaughsSCAN kicked off its first parenting class of the year on February 5th using The ABCs of Parenting from the evidence-based Nurturing Parenting Program®. This 8-week program is designed to empower parents by providing them with effective parenting skills and techniques. The length of the program provides the group enough time to delve into the core curriculum lessons while also allowing relationship-building among parents and their facilitator.

During this first series of 2015, we have had the privilege to meet and work with nineteen Spanish-speaking parents and their families. We can’t believe how quickly we have reached our half-way point. As we do for all programs, we evaluate and–if necessary–re-tool our activities throughout the series. With that in mind, we asked our Parent Education Team to take a moment and share tips and lessons learned from this and past parenting classes. With over 40+ years of combined experience, they had plenty to share!

Whether you are new to program implementation or an experienced facilitator or program coordinator, here are some tips you can consider as you implement similar programs.

  1. Know your audience. Being familiar with participants’ cultural backgrounds, genders and language differences is something we all know as critical for a facilitator to be aware of before walking into a class. However, there are other nuances to consider. For example, some individuals may have been placed in a class unwillingly by the court. They can bring a negative attitude and influence to the group. The challenge is finding a way to engage those parents and help them focus on the positive things they will gain from participating, instead of who or what brought them to the group.

    Our team recommends acknowledging their feelings. For example, “For some of you it may feel hard to fit this commitment into your schedules each week. I promise we are going to have some interesting conversations and a few laughs and before the end of this class you will likely look forward to these evenings we have together.” It is also helpful to express value in their presence. For example, you could say “In my experience, everyone brings value to these conversations and I encourage you to participate in discussions openly and honestly. Your wisdom and experience may be what helps another parent get through a challenging time.”

  1. Set expectations for the group. Each person, including the facilitator, will have their own expectations about the class. As the leader of the group, set the expectations early on. This can be done during pre-registration and during the first session when ground rules are established.
  1. Integrate relevant news. If you are working with an evidence-based curriculum you may be hesitant to integrate outside sources of materials such as news articles, quotes from well-known individuals or community members. Our team believes doing so provides an interesting and fresh take to each class. Integrating real-world situations and discussion enhances your message and supports the idea that there are others outside of the group talking about the issue.
  1. Have conversations, not lectures. Build structured conversations and activities into the sessions, rather than just lecturing. Create opportunities for the participants to contribute their relevant life experiences to the class. Enjoy and value their participation and let them know it.
  1. Set a chain of communication and check-in regularly with your team. When running any sort of program, the team needs to be on the same page. Establish clear roles for your volunteers and staff. Then designate a chain of communication. Ideally this should be set up days prior to the first class. A short debriefing at the end of each class allows staff and volunteers to bring up any challenges they are encountering and as a group find a way to address it before the next class.
  1. Working with children?
    • Say it with enthusiasm! When you are leading a children’s program, act with the poise and enthusiasm that you want to see reflected in the children and childcare volunteers. For example, if you are introducing a new game to kids and you show your excitement about how you have the coolest game in the world to share with them, then the kids will also be excited about it.  Really, if you sell it right, you can get kids to do any sort of game or activity!
    • Be flexible. Kids’ moods, likes and desires can all change in a flash and you need to be able to change with them. Don’t be upset if things don’t go the way you planned. Always have a backup game, activity or craft ready to go at all times.
  1. Have a sense of humor. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned. Weather delays/cancellations, unexpected logistics challenges, and volunteer cancellations have all caused havoc at some point in the life of a program. There are times we just need to take a breath, have a laugh and realize that when the program is supported by great staff, volunteer, and partners who have a common goal and belief in a mission, it will all eventually work out. (And if we can’t model flexibility, patience and humor for parents, then who can!?)

Have you worked with children and parents before? What are your best practices for connecting with families and making a lasting impact? We’d love to hear in the comments below!

– Marisol Morales, SCAN Parent Education Program Manager

This excellent post was shared most recently on the Darkness to Light blog (as well as Momastery’s Facebook page and originally appearing here), and it’s one that needs to be shared as many other places and with as many other people as possible: 

My beautiful cousin, who I’d not seen in 35 years, and I set out to dance on our grandfather’s grave. Our first dilemma was, of course, song choice. You have to have the right song. We bandied a few song titles about, Alanis Morrisette was a front runner.

Obviously.

We drove to the town where he lived, and where he is buried. We drove to the town where we were abused. Driving down the picturesque New England roads, I felt a little faint. Mary felt a little barfy. We pulled into a store parking lot, and Mary spent some quality time behind a dumpster, hurling. It happens.

We weren’t entirely sure where the cemetery was, so we pulled into a police station to I said, Let’s do it.ask for directions.

I said, jokingly, We should go in and file a police report. Mary said, What would happen if we went inside and filed a police report?

We walked in, after Mary barfed again, and there was a darling older police officer behind the glass window. Mary told him we were looking for the cemetery- and I had a moment of, We’re probably not REALLY going to do this. Then my beautiful cousin, who is the bravest person I know, said- And we would like to report a crime.

That got his attention.

She said, Our grandfather sexually molested us 35 years ago, and we want to report him.

We were ushered into a conference room, where a young officer came in to talk to us. He handles all of their sexual assault and rape cases. He introduced himself, sat down and proceeded to ask us questions about what happened. Names, addresses, dates. I called my sister, Aimee, and put her on speakerphone. We were all crying.

Aimee, I said, He’s writing it down.

We said, This happened to us, and he listened. He WROTE IT DOWN. He wrote it down.

I cannot begin to tell you how powerful that was.

He said several times, I don’t want to open any wounds, so if you don’t want to answer this, that’s okay. Finally I said, The wounds are all still open. Obviously. What do you want to know?

I found myself saying, to a police officer, I was raped. I never thought that would happen.

Then Mary asked a question I would not have thought to ask, but the answer to which I really needed. She said, What would have happened to him, if someone had reported it? The officer told us the procedural things, he said he would have interviewed us, he would have interviewed our grandfather, he would have corroborated what he could. And then, he said –

I would have driven down the street and arrested him.

That is what should have happened.

We know there is nothing to be done. We know there will be no consequences, and no justice. Life is staggeringly unfair, sometimes.

But there is a record. We walked into that police station holding the jagged shards of our story, of our childhood, and said, LOOK. THIS HAPPENED. And Officer Paul Smith bore witness. He wrote it down.

In few days, the police report will be available, and Mary will go get three copies. Or, if she makes good on her threat to send it out in lieu of a Christmas card next year, maybe many more. But, at least three. We will each have a copy.

We asked Officer Smith if anyone else ever comes forward about our grandfather- because we know with absolute certainty there are MANY more victims- to please give them our information. We want to meet them.

At that point we thought we were still going to go to the cemetery. Officer Paul offered us a police escort.

I think it is important to note, in the face of so much awfulness, that people really are mostly very good. He was so kind. He took it so seriously. He honored our loss.

Mary decided she’s not quite ready to dance on his grave. That’s okay. We’ve found each other again. We’ve got nothing but time.

That’s where this was supposed to end.

Then I got a call this morning, from Officer Paul. He said, Can you come in? I have something I want to tell you guys.

So.

Mary and I just got back.  We were at the police station for hours.  Talking to a mama.  About her daughter.  She told us what happened. Officer Paul wrote it down.

Read the full post from Darkness to Light here.

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SCAN works to build hope for children and families in Northern Virginia. This blog brings child welfare professionals the current trends and valuable resources that will support their work to prevent child abuse and strengthen families in Northern Virginia and beyond.

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