Is knowledge power or ignorance bliss? When dealing with child abuse, complacent ignorance does not mean the problem does not exist, but merely that we refuse to see it. Knowledge really is power but it also requires action. Educating ourselves on the warning signs of abuse and abusers is one of the only paths to child abuse prevention.
How can we become educated and bring better child abuse prevention strategies to the Bartlesville area? Last week, two Ray of Hope staff members attended facilitator training in Darkness to Light’s nationally recognized Stewards of Children program. Stewards of Children arms community members with the necessary tools to recognize and report child sexual abuse. Ray of Hope’s newly credentialed facilitators can now offer the two-hour training to our community members locally.
So what does this mean for Bartlesville? Darkness to Light’s research shows that the “tipping point” for true measurable impact in a community occurs when 5 percent of the adult population is trained on how to recognize and report child sexual abuse. For our community, that is close to 2,000 adults. Ray of Hope is ready to train, equip and empower adults throughout the Bartlesville area with the tools and knowledge needed to protect the children in their lives. Imagine if every educator, volunteer, coach, tutor, Sunday school teacher, mentor or Parent’s Day Out teacher was well trained in protecting our children. How much different, how much better, could our community be?
Darkness to Light says the first key is to learn the five steps in protecting children from child sexual abuse. Those include:
- Learn the Facts. 1 in 10 children in the U.S. is sexually abuse by age 18. More than 90 percent of victims are abused by someone known by the child or family. Teaching “stranger danger” is not enough.
- Minimize Opportunity. More than 80 percent of child sexual abuse incidents occur when children are in isolated, one-on-one situations with adults or other youth. If we eliminate these situations, we dramatically reduce the risk.
- Talk About It. Our relationship with children is one of the best protections against sexual abuse. Children often keep abuse a secret. If we talk openly about body safety, sex and boundaries, barriers can be broken down.
- Recognize the Signs. The most common symptoms of child sexual abuse are emotional or behavioral changes such as “too perfect behavior” to anger and rebellion. Don’t always expect obvious signs.
- React Responsibly. Understand how to respond to suspicions or reports of child sexual abuse. Very few reports are false. Listen to the child. Stay calm. Tell the child “it was not your fault” and “I believe you”. Report the disclosure immediately to law enforcement or DHS at 1-800-522-3511.
For more information on how you or your organization can receive Stewards of Children training, call Ray of Hope at 918-337-6177.