According to experts, one in 10 children, or 400,000 each year, will experience child sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. To educate adults on how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse, the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, including the Westfield Area Y, 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 to provide free trainings to the community.

Now through April 23, 2014, the community is invited to participate in the FREE Online Stewards of Children Training by visiting https://D2L.csod.com. There are also FREE in-person “Stewards of Children” trainings held at the Westfield Area Y Main Facility, 220 Clark Street on Sunday, November 17th from 1:00-3:00 pm, Tuesday, November 19th from 6:30-8:30 pm and Friday, November 22nd from 11:00 am-1:00 pm.  Continuing education credits for professionals in various fields can be obtained through this training. 

“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 Susan Morton, Westfield Area Y Senior Director and Darkness to Light Trainer and Facilitator. “By partnering with Darkness to Light, we will educate and empower adults to become agents of change to protect children from sexual abuse.”

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The evidence-based program is designed to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors. Darkness to Light training covers a 5-step action plan: learn the facts (1 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 Susan Morton. “We, as adults, need to take responsibility and protect children in our community. By offering Stewards of Children training, the Y hopes to educate the public on ways in which to assist in the prevention of child sexual abuse.” 

For more information or to arrange a training for your group or organization, contact Susan Morton at (908) 654-8460 or email smorton@westfieldynj.org.  The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  Visit www.westfieldynj.org to learn more about Westfield Area Y programs. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.