By Mary Beattie, Project Coordinator for The Ford Family Foundation’s Protect Our Children Project
For over 15 years I’ve contributed what I could as a volunteer, board member, employee, student, community member, and parent to help address the issue of child abuse in my community.
Now, as the contracted project coordinator for The Ford Family Foundation’s three-year Protect Our Children project, I’ve found a way, both professionally and personally, to join a MOVEMENT that is moving the needle in our favor as protectors of our children.
We know that child sexual abuse is one of the most devastating issues affecting our communities and research shows a link to teen pregnancy, depression and suicide. Victims are more likely to drop out of school, experience more teen pregnancies, depression, and even suicide. Prior and current research indicate that this particular adverse childhood experience also puts victims at greater risk illnesses later in life such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
One in 10 children in the U.S. will be sexually abused before the age of 18.
My deeply held belief is that we are responsible for the well-being and protection of the children in our care, of ALL children.
In 2015, The Ford Family Foundation partnered with 11 organizations in Oregon and Siskiyou County, Calif. to train over 20,000 adults how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. These organizations are delivering Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children training in their communities and aim to reach 5% of the adults in each region they serve.
This 2-hour facilitator-led discussion/documentary offers 5 Steps to Protect Our Children. The curriculum includes survivor stories, guidance from experts, and practical, empowering solutions that any adult can adopt to protect the children in their care and in their community. Our project has added an evaluation to measure the impact of the program. A pre and post survey require participants commit 45 minutes to an hour in addition to the 2-hour class, but will provide extensive and invaluable information as we all work together to end child sexual abuse.
I’d like to personally challenge you to take advantage of this chance to sit down and be counted in this coordinated effort to stand up and protect all of our children.
Please consider joining this movement and sign-up for a Stewards of Children training offered by your Children’s Advocacy Center in Jackson County!
(To schedule a training for yourself or your group, contact Leah Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 541-282-5474 X 113. For more information about child abuse prevention visit: http://cacjc.org/services/