Giving Back

YMCA Launches Community Initiative to Protect Children From Sexual Abuse

October 24, 2013 at 12:32 PM

LIVINGSTON, NJ - The YMCAs of New Jersey recently announced that they are launching an initiative to protect children from sexual abuse.

According to YMCA research one in every 10 children, or 400,000 kids each year are abused before the age of 18.

To educate adults in the community about how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse, the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, including the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges, have joined forces with Darkness to Light, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization and creators of the award-winning Stewards of Children™ child sexual abuse prevention curriculum.

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Training for child abuse will be offered through the Metro YMCA and through in-person, facilitator led trainings which will be open to the public and are especially recommended for youth sports organizations, school districts, faith centers and non-profits. Businesses are also encouraged to participate.

New Jersey residents can also access free online training from Oct. 23 to April 23, 2014, and can receive continuing education credits for professionals in various fields.

“As Social Responsibility is one of the Y’s key areas of focus, we are committed to developing community-based solutions that unite people to participate in and work for positive social change,” said Richard K. Gorab, President and CEO.  “By partnering with Darkness to Light, we will educate and empower adults to become agents of change to protect children from sexual abuse.”

According to the Y, Stewards of Children is an evidence-based program designed to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors.

Darkness to Light training includes a five step action plan: learn the facts (one in 10 children are sexually abused. 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).

“Child sexual abuse is a silent epidemic that crosses every socioeconomic boundary and does not discriminate,” said Gorab. “We, as adults, need to take responsibility and protect children in our community. By offering Stewards of Children training, the Y hopes to empower and mobilize adults to take action and prevent child sexual abuse.”  

To date, the Metro YMCA has trained two facilitators, 19 instructors and educated nearly 800 people and are working to reach a goal to train 83,000 adults by 2017.  The Y is eager to work with community partners including schools, volunteer groups and local government to meet the goal and help facilitate change.

According to the Y, research has shown that at 5 percent, positive change can be seen in the community.

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 are sexually abused.

  • Over 90 percent of child victims are abused by someone they know and trust.

  • 73 percent 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, two times more likely to drop out of school, and are at greater risk for physical 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.

“We can make a difference step by step, and these steps add up to happier, healthier children and stronger communities,” said Gorab.  

For more information and to learn about Stewards of Children workshops or online training sessions, contact Maureen Simons at (973) 758-9622 or preventnow@metroymcas.org.  

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