A worried parent called me not long ago. It seemed a staff member at a child care facility she used had been found to be sexually abusing some of the children. While the perpetrator had been caught and was being prosecuted, she wondered where she could get training to be better talk to her preschooler about bad touch.
While many programs are designed to help children talk about this topic, research now indicates that training adults is a more effective means of protecting children from sexual abuse. “Without an adult on board, it’s not as effective,” says Beryl Wight, community relations associate for the Memphis Child Advocacy Center (MCAC).
That’s why MCAC has launched Stewards of Children, a sexual abuse prevention program, developed by Darkness to Light. This program takes a direct and comprehensive approach to educating adults and youth-serving organizations to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. “We want to teach parents and other adults how to talk to kids on an ongoing basis.”
The training focuses on becoming aware of the risk of bad touching, how it occurs, and the steps adults need to take to make sure it doesn’t take place. “We want to minimize the opportunity,” says Wight.
Mayor AC Wharton backs MCAC’s initiative and has pledged to have all Memphis City Police officers complete the three-hour training session. Also involved during this first wave of training are the staff from Head Start daycare centers, and a number of faith-based organizations.
The classes accept up to 25 participants; facilitators come to your organization for the training. MCAC started the class this spring, and several hundred people have now been trained. MCAC’s goal is to educate 5 percent or 35,000 residents across Shelby County in the next five years. • To learn how your group can register for the training, contact Carol Drake, 888-4363. There is a $10 materials fee.