April 13, 2007 in Idaho

Abuse group focuses on prevention

Taryn Brodwater Staff writer

Darkness to Light’s seven steps for protecting children from abuse

1. Learn the facts and understand the risks: One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused. Most children don’t report the abuse.

2. Minimize opportunity: Eliminate and reduce one-on-one situations between adults and children.

3. Talk about it: Learn why children don’t tell about abuse.

4. Stay alert: Learn about the physical and emotional signs of abuse.

5. Make a plan: Know how to react when a child reports abuse and where to go for help.

6. Act on suspicions: Report suspected abuse.

7. Get involved: Support organizations that fight sexual abuse of children.

Source: www.darkness2light.org

Darkness to Light isn’t about teaching children what to do when they’ve been abused. Instead, it puts the responsibility on adults in the community to keep abuse from happening in the first place.

The national nonprofit organization focuses on teaching adults to “prevent, recognize and react responsibly” to child sexual abuse, said Beth Barclay, executive director of the ICARE Children and Family Advocacy Center.

“It takes the responsibility of the abuse off the child,” Barclay said. “In the past, programs have kind of hinged on teaching children how to tell when something bad happens to them. This takes the responsibility off the children and puts it on the adults of the community to create safe environments for the children to be in.”

Darkness to Light training Tuesday in Coeur d’Alene will teach members of the community about the nonprofit’s seven steps to protecting children.

Videos of adult survivors of child sexual abuse sharing their stories will be shown during the training session. Barclay said the firsthand accounts are powerful and illustrate one of the common misconceptions of sex abuse against children: It’s not the scary man in the trench coat or the stranger on the street abusing kids.

“In more than 90 percent of sexual abuse cases, the child and the child’s family know and trust the abuser,” Barclay said. “That’s huge.”

Darkness to Light is geared toward anyone in the community who cares about protecting children, Barclay said.

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