Today’s guest blogger is Karen Holmes, a local parent and prevention professional. Karen attended one of our Stewards of Children trainings earlier this fall through SCAN’s partnership with Darkness to Light. Then in November she made the commitment to become a trained facilitator for the program. We asked her to share her thoughts on prevention, her experiences and how it feels to be empowering others to prevent child sexual abuse:

I attended my first Darkness to Light (D2L) training in September.  I expected it to be like many child abuse awareness and prevention programs I have attended in the past.  I typically walk out of training sessions feeling powerless to create change, powerless to prevent the inevitable and emotionally drained.  But I left that D2L training session feeling completely empowered to create a change in my own community.  I felt confident that I was equipped with the tools needed to create a plan of action as a parent, a community member and as a professional in the area of prevention programming.

Darkness to Light presents a different perspective on child sexual abuse.  Everyone in the community is affected when a sexual predator targets children in their neighborhoods, sports teams, youth programs, schools and places of worship.  The responsibility rests on the adults in the community, not the children.  Adults must be vigilant and create safety plans from a place of purpose, not fear.

Child sexual abuse will happen.  The problem does not lie in “stranger danger.”  The statistics provided by D2L show that sexual predators are most often an adult in a position to be trusted with children and familiar with families.  The responsibility of awareness and protection can not be placed on our children.  We–the adults–must take on the responsibility of creating safe environments for children.  D2L does not incite fear; instead, their training instills adults with knowledge based in fact and evidence-based program guidelines empowering them to create a plan of action within their families and their communities.

How often child sexual abuse occurs and how it is handled is where change can and should occur.

After my first training in September, I chose to become a Trained Facilitator so that I can provide these same trainings in my own community. I am now empowered to shine a light on a very dark subject.  I know that the more we whisper, the more we turn away from a painful subject, the more widespread it will become.  I will talk about the reality of child sexual abuse, I will talk about the facts, and I will talk about the plan of action every adult can take in their own families, their communities and their youth-serving organizations.  I now have the skills to be a steward of not just my own children, but of all the children in my community. And I’m ready to help other adults do the same.

You can find a trained Darkness to Light Facilitator in Northern Virginia by contacting SCAN, or in other communities at www.d2l.org

~ Karen Holmes, Darkness to Light Facilitator

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