Prevent-a-thon trainings underway throughout August
It doesn’t matterwhere you live or what your socio-economic status is. Experts warn thatchild sexual abuse can cross all boundaries to impact every person inevery community, even a place as idyllic as Daniel Island. But acoalition of island residents, parents, clergy members, and businessleaders is working hard to make sure it doesn’t happen in our backyard.
Throughout themonth of August, Daniel Island will participate in the Darkness toLight Prevent-a-thon, a media-driven initiative that gives concernedadults the tools to fight child sexual abuse in their communities. Aspart of the effort, Daniel Island will offer multiple "Stewards ofChildren" trainings (see side box for dates and times) to educateparticipants on how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly tothis devastating crime. Anyone who has child family members, works withchildren, or is involved with children in any way is encouraged toattend.
"If you have anydealings with children you need to know that one in four girls and onein six boys will most likely be sexually abused before their 18thbirthday," said Lane Aspinwall, marketing coordinator for Darkness toLight. "If there are 10 children in your sphere of influence in yourlife, I would say those statistics indicate one or two of thosechildren could be abused."
"Child sexualpredators are lured to areas where there are large concentrations ofchildren and where they will have the greatest ability to groom theirpotential victims," said Gary White, an island resident involved in theDaniel Island Darkness to Light coalition. "In the same context, thesepredators will be more likely to remove themselves from areas wherethere is a large concentration of parents, teachers and adults who aretrained on what to look for, how to identify predators and what to doif they suspect a problem."
It is exactlythat power, or ability to make a difference, that motivated islandresident Kecia Greenho to get involved. She recently became a trained"Stewards of Children" facilitator and will be one of several coalitionmembers conducting the community trainings.
"As a parent Ifeel really passionately about increasing awareness of child sexualabuse," said Greenho. "The more people that we have aware of what’sgoing on and what to look for, then we will send a very clear messageas a community that we will not tolerate sexual predators involved withour children."
The statisticssurrounding child sexual abuse certainly paint a grim picture.According to the Darkness to Light Web site, 34 percent of those whosexually abuse children are family members, while 59 percent arefriends or acquaintances. Perhaps even more disturbing is that onlyabout one in 10 victims tell.
"What we’retrying to do [through our Prevent-a-thon] is effect a change in ourcommunity in terms of the way people view child sexual abuse," addedAspinwall.
By reaching 5 percent of a community’s population, Aspinwall hopes to begin tipping the scales in the right direction.
"If we can reach5 percent of the population, we hope we will have created enoughawareness and educated enough adults that the whole community will betuned into child sexual abuse so we can stamp it out."
Based on DanielIsland’s population of 5,000, the coalition has set a goal of trainingbetween 250 and 350 people. A generous grant from the Daniel IslandCommunity Fund Foundation covered the cost of the "Stewards ofChildren" facilitator training sessions. Coalition members are hopingisland businesses will support the effort as well.
"We have aspecial responsibility because of the unique community that we have,"added Greenho. "Many of our children are very independent and have morefreedom than they would in a larger community. So I don’t want us tohave this false sense of security where you just send your kids outthere and think that everything will be safe. I know I will feel saferknowing there are 300 people out there that will be trained to look forchild sexual predators and to be aware so they can intervene if theysee something that is not quite right."
"This initiativeis a great thing for Daniel Island," said Julie Dombrowski,communications director for the Daniel Island Company. "The residentshere are in a unique position to be able to set an example of how acommunity can come together to protect its children. As a community, Ithink we’ve demonstrated over and over again how effective we can bewhen we wrap our arms around an initiative like this. I believe thiseffort promises to be an outstanding success."
For additional information on Daniel Island’s Darknessto Light "Stewards of Children" training sessions, or to find out howto get involved in volunteer efforts, contact Kecia Greenho at 471-2623.