SUMMIT, NJ – The New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, including the Summit Area YMCA, 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.
Through the initiative, the Summit Area YMCA is offering 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 now through April 23, 2014. Continuing education credits for professionals in various fields can be obtained through this training.
“Social Responsibility is a key area of focus for the Y, especially when it relates to protecting children. We are committed to developing community-based solutions that unite people to participate in and work for positive social change,” said Darrell Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the Summit Area YMCA. “By partnering with Darkness to Light, we will educate and empower adults to become agents of change 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 (one in 10 children are sexually abused and more than 90 percent 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).
“We, as adults, 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 Johnson. “By offering Stewards of Children training, the Y hopes to mobilize adults to take action, prevent child sexual abuse, and make a difference, which will add up to happier, healthier children and a stronger community.”
Research has shown that five percent is the critical point for positive change in the community; therefore, the NJ 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.
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.