SUMMIT, NJ - Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman has embraced the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance’s initiative to better protect children by offering child sexual abuse prevention training, and announced that all Department of Law and Public Safety employees will receive mandatory child sexual abuse identification and prevention training as part of a proactive approach to eradicating this crime in the state.
“As law enforcement and as parents, we owe it to our children to expose the perpetrators who commit these hideous crimes and bring them to justice,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “Law enforcement will continue to crack down on this vicious crime. Yet, it is important to remember that it is everyone’s responsibility, be it teachers, friends, relatives or neighbors, to recognize the signs of abuse and report it to the proper authorities. That is why our Department will participate in this mandatory training.”
The Summit Area YMCA, as part of the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, has joined forces with Darkness to Light, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization and creator of the award-winning Stewards of Children® child sexual abuse prevention curriculum. The partnership aims to educate adults in the community on how to recognize, react responsibly to, and prevent child sexual abuse. According to experts, one in 10 children - or 400,000 each year - will experience child sexual abuse before their 18th birthday.
“This is an unprecedented state-wide investment in the prevention of child sexual abuse,” said Jolie Logan, President and CEO of Darkness to Light. “Many adults do not know how to recognize signs of sexual abuse, and most do not know what to do if sexual abuse is discovered. The New Jersey Attorney General’s office is empowering adults to protect children, and there is no greater gift than providing safe communities for children to grow up healthy and whole.”
The Summit Area YMCA, including Berkeley Heights YMCA, The Learning Circle YMCA and Summit YMCA, offers Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention training to adults in the community. In-person, facilitator-led trainings are open to the public. Local businesses and organizations, large or small, are encouraged to participate, in particular those that work with children such as youth sports organizations, school districts, faith centers and non-profits. Free online training is available for New Jersey residents through April 23. Continuing education credits for professionals in various fields can be obtained through this training.
“Social Responsibility and Youth Development are key areas of focus for the Y. We are committed to developing community-based solutions that unite people to participate in and work for positive social change,” said Paul Kieltyka, President and CEO of the Summit Area YMCA. “By partnering with Darkness to Light, we will educate and empower adults to protect children from sexual abuse.”
The evidence-based Stewards of Children program is designed to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors. The training covers a 5-step action plan: learn the facts (1 in 10 children are sexually abused and over 90% know their abuser); minimize opportunity (eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations to decrease risk for abuse); talk about it (have open conversations with children about our bodies, sex and boundaries); recognize the signs (know the signs of abuse to protect children from further harm); and react responsibly (understand how to respond to suspicions or reports of sexual abuse).
“As adults, we need to take responsibility and protect the children in our community. Child sexual abuse is a silent epidemic that crosses every socioeconomic boundary and does not discriminate,” said Mr. Kieltyka. “Through the Stewards of Children training, we hope to mobilize adults to take action, prevent child sexual abuse, and make a difference, which will result in happier, healthier children and a stronger community.”
Research has shown that 5% is the critical point for positive change in the community; therefore, the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance has a goal of training 83,000 adults by 2017. The Ys will work with local community partners including schools, volunteer groups and local government to meet the goal and help facilitate change.
“The YMCA and New Jersey YMCA State Alliance continue to be incredible partners in the fight against child sexual abuse. Their commitment to protect children in YMCA programs, facilities and in the community should serve as an inspiration to all youth serving organizations across the country,” said Jolie Logan, President and CEO of Darkness to Light.
About Child Sexual Abuse
Crime and behavioral studies have long cited child sexual abuse for its devastating impact on society. Statistics are startling:
· Experts estimate one in 10 children is sexually abused.
· Over 90% of child victims are abused by someone they know and trust.
· 73% of children do not tell anyone for at least one year. Many never tell, making this a silent epidemic that can result in lifelong consequences.
· Child sexual abuse is linked to a host of societal issues including teen pregnancy, depression, anxiety and suicide.
· Victims are three times more likely to have substance abuse issues, twice more likely to drop out of school, and are at greater risk for illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious medical conditions.
· In the U.S., alone, there are an estimated 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
· Child sexual abuse ranks second to murder as the most expensive victim crime in the U.S., where immediate and long-term costs exceed $35 billion annually.
For more information about the free Stewards of Children online training, or to schedule in-person training for a company or organization, contact Tiffany Escott at 908 / 738.2141.