A report – from the road – courtesy of SCAN’s Community Educator Sharon Crilly:

This past weekend, I began what I am going to pleasantly refer to as “SCAN’s community education road trip.” SCAN participated in the Summer Camp Fun Expo at the Dulles Town Center in Loudoun County. We were delighted to have an educational information booth sponsored by Washington Parent Magazine. The event attracted approximately 75 camp/activity vendors and businesses that were child-focused. The atmosphere was fun and family-centered! There was entertainment, face painting, balloon animals and mascots throughout the weekend. On a side note – do you have any ideas for a SCAN mascot?

Our focus throughout the weekend was to provide information on child sexual abuse prevention, the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training and SCAN’s presence in Loudoun and Prince William Counties. We provided each camp with information in their welcome packet on how their organization can take appropriate steps to prevent, recognize and react should a situation of abuse be present. I mentioned this to parents as they picked up our educational resources – that the camps all had our information and that they should feel free to ask questions of these camps about their policies.

While our volunteers were handing out information and the very popular pinwheels to families, I spent one-on-one time with almost all of the camps. Much to my pleasant surprise, several camps had already reviewed the information we gave them when they checked in on Saturday morning. Overall, they were very accepting of SCAN’s efforts and resources. I encouraged them to call or email if they had questions or concerns. The most humorous story I heard was that one camp said a parent mentioned that they had just come from the “child abuse camp” table. Until I came to introduce myself, the director of the camp was perplexed by what the parent was saying. The light bulb went off and it started to make sense to him. Can you imagine how that must have sounded – a child abuse camp?

We’re thrilled to report we reached approximately 125 parents over the weekend who were searching for activities for their children to participate in. This is a fabulous start in our efforts! I talked with everyone from a police officer to a teacher to day care worker, and moms from many different areas. I encouraged them to look at our website and share our resources with their fellow parents. A few parents were hesitant to take information as they felt that this wasn’t a problem because their children were only 6 and 9. Did you know the average age of a child sexual abuse victim is 9 years old?

Another mom was concerned that her 5-year-old daughter was so trusting of others and she struggles to find a balance of how to teach her about being safe from abuse. Hopefully, our resources will provide some comfort, encouragement and a starting point for more awareness. A vendor from a national on-line resource website for parents approached us with a concern over what to do about a camp director who has an offender record. Our recommendation was to call the child protective services hotline to seek advice. As adults, it is our responsibility to make sure that all children are safe. This parent may have prevented a child from ever experiencing abuse – which is exactly what SCAN and Darkness to Light are partnering to empower adults to do.

Next stop on our Darkness to Light community education road trip – a “Dough Raiser” on Friday, March 9th at UNO’s in Manassas and Woodbridge. We hope you’ll join us!

– Sharon

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