Education, cooperation can help prevent child sexual abuse
Gene Sapakoff’s April 9 column, “We owe our kids a better Reville report,” is a timely call to action.
In his column, Sapakoff quotes Mount Pleasant Police Chief Harry Sewell’s advisement to “… get everyone together; people from the places he [Reville] worked, law enforcement, parents, some of the coaches around here, child abuse experts — and try to see how this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
We couldn’t agree more. Today, Darkness to Light issues a call to action to all adults in our community. It is our collective responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse, and we can start by ensuring our local youth-serving organizations implement policies and procedures that support this endeavor.
Many organizations are now taking comprehensive steps to better protect the children they serve, including the City of Charleston, all tri-county school districts, The Citadel, and numerous churches, youth groups, and centers. As a parent or concerned adult, you have the right to know if organizations in your community belong to this growing movement. Talk to your church, your day care, your child’s dance studio or soccer team — ask them about their child protection policies. Dance studios have fire safety evacuation procedures. Soccer coaches monitor players for signs of heat exhaustion.
Day cares take extensive measures to ensure children go home with the correct people at the end of the day. Yet children are far more likely to experience sexual abuse than fire, heat stroke, or kidnapping. It’s OK to expect a lot from our youth-serving organizations — our children are worth it.
If any of your community organizations do not currently implement child-protective policies, several factors may be at play. They may be intimidated by the subject, unsure of where to begin, concerned about the cost, or a combination of the three. If this is the case, simply let them know how a few small steps can make a very large difference. Tell them:
1) Organizations have a duty to the children they serve to know how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse;
2) Preventive measures can be both cost-effective and easy to implement;
3) When organizations and parents work together to actively protect children, it provides all children in the community with the ability to grow up healthy and whole.
Prevention training programs such as those offered by Darkness to Light, coupled with support services such as those offered by Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center provide comprehensive resources to protect and assist the children of our community.
Let’s raise the bar on protection standards, and keep children safe from sexual abuse. If you want to be part of the discussion, contact our office or let us know at www.D2L.org/SC.
Chief Executive Officer
Darkness to Light