This month’s guest blogger making a “SCANStop” is Board Member Patti Boerger, who recently participated in one of our new Stewards of Children trainings through the Darkness to Light program to end child sexual abuse. Here she shares what she learned, and presents a challenge to us all: 

Child. Sexual. Abuse.

These three words are taboo in many households, yet it is highly likely that you know a child who has or is being abused, or an adult who lived through this nightmare.
The horrifying statistics on a topic that is finally coming out of the darkness are one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthdays.

I learned these statistics and what I can do in the community to help end child sexual abuse by recently attending the Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention training offered locally by SCAN.  The program is intended to light a fire under adults so they take courageous action to stop abuse, learn the facts and report any suspected cases to the authorities.

What should adults do?  The training stresses that child sexual abuse prevention and response are an adult’s job. It’s an adult’s responsibility to look after children, to be conscious of what’s going on around them, and to speak up–sometimes loudly and relentlessly–on children’s behalf. This may seem like common sense, but too often abuse cases go unreported, adults don’t know the signs, the questions to ask or just don’t feel empowered to make a difference in their communities.

There was great example of a mom in the video training who said her child was not going to take music lessons at a particular studio where the instructor and child were alone in a room, behind a closed door with no window for a parent or adult to see what was occurring in the classroom.  This parent had learned the facts–more than 80% of sexual abuse cases occur in these one adult/one child situations–and she refused to put her child in a situation where conditions existed for potential abuse.

This training also teaches attendees about developing better policies and procedures to prevent child abuse, creating awareness among adults and showing them steps to take so abusers don’t want to work for them because they don’t make it easy for abuse to occur.

The bottom line is: learn the facts, minimize the opportunities for sexual abuse to occur, talk about it openly with adults and children to increase awareness of the topic, stay alert and act on suspicions.

THE CHALLENGE: I encourage you to read the information on SCAN’s website about child sexual abuse, and TELL 10 FRIENDS what you learned and what you plan to do. Help SCAN spread the word about child abuse prevention.  And if you know of anyone who could benefit from the Stewards of Children Training, please have them learn more on our website here.

– Patti

To discuss a training in the City of Alexandria, please contact our partners in this outreach at the Center for Alexandria’s Children. To discuss a training for your group in any other part of Northern Virginia, please contact Sharon Crilly (scrilly@scanva.org), SCAN’s Community Educator.

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